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Full text of "Critical essays"

CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



BY THE 

REV. T. E. ESPIN, B.D. 

PROFESSOR OF PASTORAL THEOLOGY, QUEEN'S COLLEGE, 

BIRMINGHAM ; 

RECTOR OF HADLEIGH, ESSEX, AND RURAL DEAN; 

LATE FELLOW AND TUTOR OF LINCOLN COLLEGE, OXFORD. 



LONDON; 
RIVINGTONS, WATERLOO PLACE 

AND HIGH STREET, OXFORD. 
1864. 



LONDON : 

GILBERT AND RIVINGTON, PRINTERS, 

ST. JOHN'S SQUARE. 



ADVEKTISEMENT. 



The following Essays have in substance been already 
published in the form of newspaper articles. They 
have been collected and thrown into their present 
shape in consequence of requests and suggestions from 
various quarters. They are, however, by no means 
mere reprints; but have been since their first appear- 
ance revised, greatly enlarged, and in parts re- written. 

May 24, 1864. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

I. Wesleyan Methodism 1 

II. Essays and Reviews . .30 

III. Life of Edward Irving 63 

IV. Dr. Hessey's Bampton Lectures on Sunday .... 94 
V. Life of Bishop Wilson, of Sodor and Man .... 113 

VK Life of Bishop Wilson, of Calcutta 140 

VII. Life of Calvin 166 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



ESSAY I. 

The Life of Wesley. By Eobeet Southey, Esq., LL.D. A New 
Edition. Two Vols., 8vo. 

History of Wesleyan Methodism. By Geoege Smith, F.A.S., &c. 
Vol. I. Wesley and his Times. Vol. II. The Middle Age. 
Vol. III. Modern Methodism. 

The Life of Jabez Bunting, D.D. By his Son, T. P. Bunting. 
Vol. I. 

It would be superfluous, almost impertinent, to praise 
a standard work like Southey's Life of Wesley. The 
last edition of it is a cheap and convenient reprint of 
the best of the earlier ones, that, namely, of 1846, 
which was edited by the author's son, and contained 
the marginal notes of S. T. Coleridge ; and in the 
Appendix a lengthy, interesting, and very learned paper 
on Wesley and Wesley anism, by the late Alexander 
Knox. Such an original, with two such annotators, 
furnishes a triple cord which must enchain all who have 
the ability to appreciate, and the taste to relish, first- 
rate biography, and luminous criticism upon it. Southey 
was the first who gave any thing approaching to a 

B 



Z CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

candid and able account of the founder of Methodism. 
Previous biographers — and they were several — had 
been more intent upon promoting the ends of religious 
faction than on giving an impartial picture of their hero ; 
and were all of them conspicuously wanting either in 
the impartiality or the ability to estimate justly his 
character and his work. And Southey's biography still 
stands alone. The forty years which have elapsed since 
its first publication have produced nothing to abate 
from the repute it at once attained as one of the best 
works of its very interesting class ; nothing materially 
to shake the conclusions its author formed about the 
character he handles in it ; and nothing certainly in the 
shape of a Life of Wesley which could supersede, or 
even pretend to compare with it. It is unnecessary 
to rehearse an oft- told tale, and we shall not dwell on 
the incidents of Wesley's extraordinary career. His 
character has been not less anxiously canvassed and 
hotly debated since his death than it was in his life — 
and no two of the authorities now before us are of the 
same mind respecting it. Some traits of it, indeed, 
are so marked, as to suggest themselves irresistibly to 
all tolerably candid and competent observers. It is 
scarce possible not to note his eager and impatient 
temperament, which made hesitation and suspense 
either in action or opinion intolerable to him ; his 
credulity, seen in the unwarrantable value he at- 
tached to sudden revolutions of the mind, and in the 
encouragement he lent during a great part of his course 
to some of the more questionable excesses to which his 
followers gave way ; his logical power, strangely and 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 6 

heterogeneously made up of sagacity and rashness, 
jumping at consequences careless of the soundness of 
the footing whence the leap was made ; his remarkable 
practical wisdom, which consisted, however, rather in a 
fertility of clever expedients for immediate exigencies 
than in that prophetic foresight which anticipates and 
forestalls future issues and distant results. Another of 
Wesley's deeply-marked characteristics, which his ad- 
miring disciples in vain try to obliterate, is his extra- 
ordinary egotism. Had he not possessed vanity enough to 
believe any thing and every thing respecting himself to 
be well worthy of recording, he would hardly have found 
the time and the patience to keep, as he did, a minute 
diary for some sixty-five years, not only of his actions and 
his journeys, but of his thoughts, opinions, and obser- 
vations on men, books, and endless miscellaneous topics ; 
much less would he have bequeathed such a record to 
his disciples — a record which, had it been possible for 
a humble or delicate-minded man to keep it at all, 
would, of all things, have been kept for himself alone. 
In all Wesley's works, whatever be their subject, he 
either finds or makes opportunity to speak of himself, 
his own views, his own Conduct. He evidently seems 
to himself to stand at the centre of all things, and 
regards them as going their appointed ways from him 
and to him. Southey truly remarks of him, when in 
the full swing of his career, " The world did not contain 
a happier man than Wesley, nor in his own eyes a more 
important one." 

Coleridge's comment is severe — we are persuaded, far 
too severe — but still on the true line : — " Rooted am- 

b 2 



4 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

bition, restless appetite of power and primacy, with a 
vindictive spirit, breaking out into slanders against 
those who interfered with his ruling passion, and a 
logical shadow-fight with notions and words, sustained 
by the fervour of the game, with an entire absence and 
unsusceptibility of ideas and tranquil depths of being — 
in short, my-my-my-self in a series of disguises and 
self-delusions. Such is the sum of Southey's statement ; 
and are these compatible with the same Wesley at the 
same time assuredly loving God with all his heart, and 
with all his soul, and with all his strength ? If it were 
right and possible for a man to lose himself in God — 
yet can he lose God in himself, otherwise than by 
making his self his God ?" — Southey, vol. i. p. 243, note. 
Such a mind is always an active and a versatile one ; 
and few have equalled, none perhaps excelled, Wesley's 
industry and many-sidedness. For fifty years he rose 
at four in the morning. He read while he made his 
journeys on horseback — a dangerous practice, which 
cost him one or two serious accidents ; and in the latter 
part of his life, when increasing infirmities obliged him 
to use a carriage, he read still more. Hence, during 
the seasons snatched by economical management of time 
out of the busiest of lives, he not only kept up the high 
acquirements in academical lore which he had made his 
own at Oxford, but mastered most of the modern lan- 
guages, was well read in almost every science and every 
study to which he could get access, and kept thoroughly 
up with the lighter literature of the day — poetry, pam- 
phlets, and works of fiction. The list of his revised 
editions of other men's books, of his epitomes, manuals, 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 5 

histories, commentaries, &c. — literally seeming to be 
almost de omni scibili — consists of no less than 118 dis- 
tinct works, some of them of considerable bulk. When 
we add to these, several collections of psalm-tunes, of 
hymns, and of prayers which he published, and the 
sixteen volumes forming the ordinary edition of his 
works, we have a monument of ability and energy 
worthy of the most operose and prolific writers of 
ancient times. How far superior he was to the very 
best of his followers in breadth and liberality of mind 
is curiously illustrated by the following extract from 
Mr. Smith's second volume : — 

Mr. Pawson was a very good man, and a useful preacher ; but 
beyond the study of divinity his literary taste was of a very humble 
character. When Dr. "Whitehead had finished his Life of Wesley, he 
returned the papers and manuscripts which he had so long retained 
in his possession, to the book steward, Mr. George Storey, by whom 
they were deposited in the superintendent's house, in the custody 
of Mr. Pawson. This preacher, no doubt with the best intentions, 
took upon himself to examine these papers, and to destroy what he 
thought useless. By this rash procedure, it is feared, many docu- 
ments of great interest were irrecoverably lost. Indeed, this Gothic 
spirit did not find sufficient gratification in the burning of manu- 
scripts. There was in Wesley's library in that house a fine quarto 
edition of Shakspeare, presented to him by a gentleman of Dublin. 
The margin of this book was filled with critical notes by Wesley's 
own hand. Yet Mr. Pawson, regarding this book as among the 
things which tended not to edification, destroyed it. Fortunately 
Mr. Moore at Bristol heard of the progressive destruction of the 
papers, and instantly wrote, protesting against such conduct, and 
demanding them as Wesley's trustee, — a course which saved the 
remainder. — Smith, vol. ii. pp. 296, 297. 

Mr. Knox lived for many years in close and familiar 
intercourse with Wesley, and at one time was a member 
of the Wesleyan Society, which, however, he soon 



6 CRITICAL ESSAY8. 

quitted. As might be supposed, his view of Wesley's 
character and motives is far more favourable than that 
of Coleridge, or even Southey. Much must be allowed 
for the partiality of an old friend ; and there are parts 
of Wesley's conduct which seem quite irreconcileable 
with the single-mindedness which Mr. Knox ascribes to 
him. His conduct to the Moravians, which Mr Smith 
judiciously passes but lightly over, was an instance. 
We do not speak of his turning so sharply and sud- 
denly on those with whom he had been in close spiritual 
sympathy. . This, which he did in turn to almost every 
one with whom he held fellowship, arose from the cha- 
racter of his mind. We find in him no gradual transi- 
tions. He was driven from point to point by forces 
partly logical, partly circumstantial; and he often 
seemed to be warmest in defending his position when 
just on the point of abandoning it. In each of his 
changes he was, as it were, thrust from one stand-point 
to another with headlong violence ; and almost before he 
had regained his feet, he assailed with eager, sometimes 
bitter, reproaches those whose company he had just left. 
His letters to the author of the Serious Call are a sin- 
gular instance of this. But no strength of idiosyncrasy 
can excuse or even palliate his behaviour to the Mora- 
vians. He had been received as a friend and a brother 
at their settlement of Herrnhut; he had professed 
himself much edified by the purity and piety of their 
lives, and their zeal in Missionary labour ; he borrowed 
directly from them not a little of his peculiar theology, 
and of the plan on which he organized his society. 
Yet, not content with suddenly and utterly separating 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 7 

from them in 1738, he charged them, Southey tells us, 
" with being cruel and deceitful men. He published in 
his Journal accusations against them of the foulest 
kind, made by persons who had forsaken their society ; 
thus giving the whole weight of his judgment to these 
abominable charges." This, in Southey's opinion, must 
be considered the most " disingenuous act" in Wesley's 
life. Coleridge, not without justice, remarks : " With- 
out supposing a certain partiality to have stolen, unper- 
ceived, on Southey's mind, I cannot explain this pal- 
liative phrase, ' disingenuous/ for a series of deliberate, 
revengeful, almost fiendish, calumnies, perpetrated 
against the light of Wesley's own recollections." — 
Southey, vol. i. p. 223, note. 

A point of special interest to Churchmen, and on 
which their judgment of Wesley must greatly depend, 
is what his intentions were with respect to the relations 
between the Church and his own society. Southey's 
remarks on the so-called consecration of Dr. Coke bv 
Wesley to be a Bishop in America are well worth 
reading and re-reading : — 

Mr. Wesley had been convinced, by the perusal of Lord King's 
account of the Primitive Church, that bishops and presbyters are 
the same order. Men are sometimes easily convinced of what they 
find it convenient or agreeable to believe. Regarding the apostolic 
succession as a fable, he thought, when this application from 
America arrived, that the best thing which he could do would be to 
secure the Wesleyan succession for the United States. Having, 

therefore, determined how to act, he communicated his determina- 
tion to Dr. Coke, and proposed, in his character of presbyter, which 
he said was the same as bishop, to invest him with the same 
presbytero- episcopal powers, that, in that character, he might pro- 
ceed to America, and superintend the societies in the United States. 



8 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

The doubts which Dr. Coke entertained as to the validity of Mr. 
Wesley's authority were removed by the same treatise which had 
convinced Mr. Wesley ; <tnd it seems not to have occurred to either 
the one or the other, that if presbyter and bishop were the same 
order, the proposed consecration was useless ; for Dr. Coke, having 
been regularly ordained, was as good a bishop as Mr. Wesley him- 
self, c . Wesley had long deceived himself respecting the part which 
he was acting toward the Church of England. At the outset of his 
career he had no intention of setting himself up in opposition to it ; 
and when, in his progress toward schism, he disregarded its forms, 
and set its discipline at nought, he still repeatedly disclaimed all 
views of separation. Nor did he ever avow the wish, or refer to it 
as a likely event, with complacency, even when he must have per- 
ceived that the course of his conduct and the temper of his followers 
rendered it inevitable. On this occasion his actions spoke for him : 
by arrogating the episcopal authority, he took the only step which 
was wanting to form the Methodists into a distinct body of separa- 
tists from the Church. Nevertheless, this was not done without 
reluctance, arising from old and rooted feelings ; nor without some 
degree of shame, perhaps, for the inconsistencies in which he had 
involved himself. From the part which he now took, and the 
manner in which he attempted to justify it, it may be presumed 
that the story of his applying to the Greek bishop for consecration 
is well founded, notwithstanding the falsehoods which his enemies 
had added to the simple fact. Mr. Wesley's declared opinion re- 
specting the identity of the episcopal and priestly orders was con- 
tradicted by his own conduct ; and it may be suspected that his 
opinion upon the apostolical succession rested on no better ground 
than its convenience to his immediate purpose. Undoubtedly, as he 
says, it is not possible to prove the apostolical succession ; but short 
of that absolute proof which, in this case, cannot be obtained, and 
therefore ought not to be. demanded, there is every reason for 
believing it. No person who fairly considers the question can doubt 
this, whatever value he may attach to it. But Wesley knew its 
value. He was neither so deficient in feeling or in sagacity as not 
to know that the sentiment which connects us with other ages, and 
by which we are carried back, is scarcely less useful in its influences 
than the hopes by which we are carried forward. He would rather 
have been a link of the golden chain, than the ring from whence a 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 9 

new one of inferior metal was to proceed. Soon after he had 

taken the memorable step of consecrating Dr. Coke as an American 
bishop, he arrogated to himself the same authority for Scotland as 
for America ; and this, he maintained, was not a separation from 
the Church — " Not from the Church of Scotland," said he, " for we 
were never connected therewith ; not from the Church of England, 
for this is not concerned in the steps which are taken in Scotland. 
Whatever, then, is done, either in America or Scotland, is no sepa- 
ration from the Church of England. I have no thought of this : I 
have many objections against it." He had been led toward a sepa- 
ration imperceptibly, step by step ; but it is not to his honour that 
he aifected to deprecate it to the last, while he was evidently bring- 
ing it about by the measures which he pursued. — Southey, vol. ii. 
pp. 212—215. 

Mr. Knox's apology for Wesley's conduct is, that he 
yielded to the urgency of those about him, and was 
betrayed by his partialities for individuals into grievous 
inconsistency. It certainly was one of his character- 
istics to conceive strong and not always discriminating 
attachments. His brother Charles once tells him — 
" Nay, it signifies nothing to tell you any thing, for 
whomever you once love, you will love on through thick 
and thin." During the last years of "Wesley's life 
several circumstances concurred to alienate the Wesleyan 
body from the Church. The growing influence of the 
lay preachers, their jealousy of the few clergy who 
acted with them, their natural desire of placing them- 
selves on a level with the ministers of other denomi- 
nations, the disrespect with which the Church began to 
be regarded by those who preferred the preaching of 
the conventicle, — all inevitably tended to the result 
which was not finally consummated till after Wesley's 
death. That those in whom these tendencies were most 



10 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

marked used strong solicitations to induce "Wesley to 
commit those schismatical acts on which so much stress 
is laid cannot be doubted. The only question is, whether 
"Wesley's own inclination seconded that of his advisers 
or not — whether his fault was only that he allowed 
himself to be misled by importunity, acting on the 
assailable points of a mind debilitated by extremely 
advanced old age, or whether he was guilty of the 
grievous sin of sacrificing his principles to an ambitious 
desire of consolidating his community, and perpetuating 
his name. Mr. Knox pleads earnestly for the less unfa- 
vourable view of his conduct. The point is so important 
and so interesting that we may be pardoned for making 
an extract of some length from his remarks : — 

So much did he deprecate a gratuitous separation, that when, 
Rome years before his death, I asked him, in a private conversation, 
how he should wish his friends to act in case of the Methodists 
withdrawing from the Established Church, his answer was, " I would 
have % them adhere to the Church and leave the Methodists." It is 
on the proofs which Mr. Wesley gave to the last of this same feeling 
every now and then recovering its ascendancy, even after he had 
yielded to contrarious counsels, that I ground my exculpation of 
him from intentional duplicity. I submit the particular instances 
to Mr. Southey's consideration ; he will judge whether they do not 
give evidence of a mind at distressing variance with itself, and as 
incapable of forming any politic design for its own purpose, as of 
detecting the representations of interested prejudiced advisers. The 
first remarkable instance of the kind to whicli I allude occurred 
more than two years after his first ordination for America. A spirit 
of decided Dissent broke out at Deptford, and Mr. Wesley was 
urged to allow the Methodists there to hold their Sunday service at 
Church hours. But he refused compliance on the ground {Journal, 
1st Edit. Sept. 24, 1786) that " this would be a formal separation 
from the Church." " To fix " (our service), he adds, " at the same 
hour is obliging them to separate either from the Church or us ; and 



CRITICAL ESSAYS, 11 

this I judge to be not only inexpedient, but totally unlawful for me 
to do." This remonstrance, however, had but a transient effect, for 
on the 2nd of January following his words are — " I went over to 
Deptford, but it seemed I was got into a den of lions : most of the 
leading men in the society were mad for separating from the 
Church. I endeavoured to reason with them, but in vain; they 
had neither sense nor even good manners left. At length, after 
meeting the whole society, I told them, ' If you are resolved, you 
may have your service in the Church hours ; but, remember, from 
that time you will see my face no more.' This struck deep, and 
from that hour I have heard no more of separation from the Church." 
How Mr. Wesley could overlook the encouragement which he 
himself had given to such movements of Dissent, I acknowledge I 
do not comprehend. But these expressions not only bear an indu^ 
bitable stamp of feeling, but it is impossible to conceive why, in that 
instance, he should have spoken otherwise than he felt, and still 
more, that he should have made such a record without a conscious 
sense of sincerity. Common policy would have especially forbidden 
its publication had he been in a state of mind duly to weigh either 
his own recent measures, or the consequences morally certain to 
ensue from them. When those, however, whom we may suppose to 
have advised those measures came themselves into power, they did 
their utmost to suppress this unquestionable evidence of Mr. 
Wesley's variance with himself, or rather of what were still the 
unbiassed workings of his heart. In every edition of Mr. Wesley's 
Journal, subsequent to his death, the former passage (Sept.- 24th, 
1786) is mutilated, and the latter passage (Jan. 2nd, 1787) wholly 
cancelled. They doubtless hoped to consign this virtual protest 
against their meditated plan to everlasting oblivion. But I hap- 
pened to procure the original edition, and thereby had it in my 
power to quote both passages in a small pamphlet which I pub- 
lished in England in the year 1794, against the then commencing 
separation ; and from that pamphlet I have now transcribed them. 
Their suppression is remarkable, not only for the wily policy of the 
act itself, but also as it serves to illustrate the kind of influence 
under which Mr. Wesley was placed during the last years of his 
life. Some other evidences of his radically unchanged principles 
(however he might have been seduced to depart from them in those 
strange instances of practice) could not be similarly put out of view, 



12 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

though no endeavour of this kind was wanting. Thus, when Mr. 
Wesley was in Ireland, in the year 1789, at a distance from pre- 
judiced advisers, and amongst persons cordially attached to the 
Church of England, he composed a sermon on Hebrews v. 4, which 
he published twelve months after in the Ar mini an Magazine, con- 
taining as energetic a testimony as could be expressed in language 
against separation from the Church, and assumption by his preachers 
of the priestly office. That even in this sermon there are gross 
inconsistencies and self-impositions I must allow; but where he 
urges what he considered the main point, the expressions are self- 
evidently the language of his heart. Fully aware that there was an 
ambition amongst his preachers to assume the ministerial office, he 
tells them — "Ye never dreamed of this for ten or twenty years 
after ye began to preach. Ye did not then, like Korah, Dathan, 
and Abiram, seek the priesthood also. Ye knew no man taketh 
this honour to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron." 
He then proceeds — " ! contain yourselves within your own bounds. 
Be content with preaching the Gospel. I earnestly advise you, 
abide in your place ; keep your own station. Ye were fifty years 
ago, those of you who were then Methodist preachers, extraordinary 
messengers of God, not going in your own will, but thrust out, not 
to supersede, but to provoke to jealousy the ordinary messengers. 
In Goi's name stop there. Ye yourselves were at first called in the 
Church of England, and though ye have, and will have, a thousand 
temptations to leave it, and set up for yourselves, regard them not. 
Be Church of England men still. Do not cast away the peculiar 
glory which God hath put upon you, and frustrate the design of 
Providence, the very end for which God raised you up." How very 
unpalatable this language was to those whose counsels had already 
made the evil too sfoong for repression, appears from their omission 
of this sermon in the volume of Mr. Wesley, s yet uncollected dis- 
courses published after his death. He had himself collected into 
four volumes the sermons he had written for the Arminian Maga- 
zine, but as he persevered in this labour until within the last three 
months of his life, enough remained at the time of his death to form 
an additional volume. But the sermon from which I have tran- 
scribed the above passage was suppressed, and has never since 
appeared in any edition of Mr. Wesley's sermons. — Southey, vol. ii. 
pp. 314—317. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 13 

Southey himself was convinced by these arguments. 
In a letter, of which not only a copy but a, facsimile is 
given by Mr. Smith, in his second volume, bearing date 
August 17, 1835, Southey writes — "Mr. Alexander 
Knox has convinced me that I was mistaken in sup- 
posing ambition entered largely into Mr. Wesley's 
actuating impulses. Upon the subject he wrote a long 
and most admirable paper, and gave me permission to 
affix it to my own work, whenever it might be reprinted. 
This I shall do, and make such alterations in the book 
as are required in consequence." Although Mr. Knox's 
paper does, as we have seen, form an appendage to the 
later editions of Southey's work, yet the change of 
opinion here confessed is not adverted to in the work 
itself ; and its editor is accordingly sharply censured by 
Mr. Smith for want of candour. Mr. Smith, however, 
should recollect that Southey, if persuaded at last of 
"Wesley's integrity and disinterestedness in the main, 
must at the same time have attributed to him what, in 
Mr. Smith's judgment, would hardly be less offensive — 
viz. the weakest inconsistency, not to say imbecility, in 
respect of those acts on which the modern Wesleyans 
mainly rely for the justification of their own proceed- 
ings after Wesley's death. We much fear, however, 
that Mr. Smith's own volumes must be held to supply 
painfully convincing evidence, which probably had 
escaped both Southey and Knox, that Southey's original 
judgment was not far from the truth : — 

" Mr. Wesley had hitherto ordained ministers only for America 
and Scotland; but from this period, being assisted by the Rev. 
James Creighton and the Rev. Peard Dickenson, presbyters of the 



14 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

Church of England, he set apart for the sacred office, by the imposi- 
tion of hands and prayer, Messrs. A. Mather, T. Rankin, and H. 
Moore, without sending them out of England; strongly advising 
them at the same time that, according to his example, they should 
continue united to the Established Church, so far as the blessed 
work in which they were engaged would permit." Thus Wesley 
did distinctly make known his opinion of the paramount importance 
of maintaining the progress of the work of God, even at the expense 
of his own devoted attachment to the Establishment. He at other 
times, and by various acts, showed that he regarded even the most 
useful form, and the most approved ecclesiastical order, as of small 
importance, when the work of grace in the salvation of men rendered 
a modification of them necessary. Not only, therefore, was " bap- 
tism, as well as the burial of the dead, performed by many of the 
preachers long before the death of Mr. Wesley, and with his con- 
sent," but Mr. John Martin, in reply to persons who had asserted 
that " the sacrament had never been given in England by laymen in 
Mr. Wesley's lifetime," says, " Mr. Wesley sent me to the city of 
Norwich, to a congregation who desired the sacrament ; and I both 
baptized their children and administered the sacrament to the people 
part of three years ; and the preachers who followed me did the 
same." The following gives a still more decisive account of de- 
partare from usual ecclesiastical order under the sanction of Wesley. 
" Before his " (Wesley's) " death, a great number of places had ser- 
vice in Church hours, and several of them the sacrament of the 
Lord's Supper regularly administered to them. He ordained Mr. 
Woodhouse, of Owston, near Epworth, and appointed him to preach 
in his gown and bands, in Church hours, and also to administer 
the sacrament, although he was only a local preacher." He also 
permitted " Mr. Hanby to administer the ordinances in the circuits 
where he laboured," although he had not been ordained. — Vol. ii. 
pp. 10, 11. 

Our readers can now form their own judgment. 
Certain it is that "Wesley acted either with the most 
extraordinary prevarication and duplicity, or was misled 
through most culpable weakness. Certain also it is 
that if his followers claim his acquittal from the former 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 15 

charge, they must allow that their whole system, in so* 
far as it involves separation from the Church, and 
organization into an independent and complete eccle- 
siastical community, is built not upon the uniform 
principles and mature convictions of their founder, but 
upon the weak concessions he made in his feeble years 
to their own importunities. In no case, whether modern 
Wesleyanism is built upon the treachery or the incon- 
sistency of its author, can the dishonest suppression of 
his latest sentiments on these points, as attested by Mr. 
Knox, be excused. The mode in which this was done 
irresistibly suggests a suspicion, and something more 
than a suspicion, that the Conference was not so satis- 
fied as it professed to be that its schismatical acts could 
be reconciled with the precepts of him to whom they 
pretend so ostentatiously to look as their "venerable 
father." 

Mr. George Smith, the author of the three bulky 
volumes entitled a History of Wesleyan Methodism, 
would seem to be a person of some consideration 
amongst his co-religionists. We observe that he is 
entitled to several "handles'' to his name, and has 
made other large contributions to Wesleyan literature, 
which are extolled in somewhat high-flown strains by 
the organs of Conference. We cannot congratulate 
the connexion upon showing a high average of literary 
ability, if Mr. Smith is one of their best specimens. 
He would seem to be sufficiently painstaking, and, for a 
thorough- going partisan of Conference, as candid as he 
can conveniently be; but we have seldom perused 
volumes of more unmitigated dulness than his. Tame 



16 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

aud prosy to an extreme, his facts of all sorts and sizes 
are exhibited on the same dead level, and in the same 
uninviting tints, badly relieved by unsuccessful attempts 
at unction. His present work is, judging from a list 
appended to the volumes, his most important, as it 
seems the least uninteresting of his efforts. It has 
evidently been written under the countenance of the 
Wesleyan leaders, and with some assistance from 
them; and may fairly be considered the Methodists' 
account and history of themselves. In this point of 
view the second volume, embracing the middle age of 
Wesleyanism, is particularly interesting. It contains 
the narrative of those troubles which immediately and 
inevitably followed the death of Wesley in March 1791, 
the issue of which was the severance of the connexion 
from the Church. 

Mr. Smith describes Methodism after Wesley's death 
as containing " hundreds of congregations, comprising 
great numbers of men and women, well instructed in 
every Christian doctrine and duty, who walked daily in 
the experience of the Divine favour, and in the practice 
of all Christian virtue. Yet although these societies 
were clearly entitled to rank as Christian Churches, and 
were actually in possession of every other essential of 
Christian communion, they were not permitted to re- 
ceive from the hands of their own preachers those sacred 
ordinances which form the most striking and distinctive 
privilege of the Church of Christ. ,, — Vol. ii. pf. 2, 3. 
The connexion was in fact divided into two parties — 
those who advocated " the old plan/' and those who were 
for organizing themselves into a complete ecclesiastical 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 17 

community, supplying all the means of grace within 
itself. The conduct of Conference was politic, and was 
finally crowned with that result which beyond doubt 
had been all along sought and desired — viz. the sever- 
ance of their body from the Church. At first they 
cast lots about the knotty point, perhaps having in 
mind the superstitious practice of Biblical sortilege 
which Wesley frequently resorted to in his difficulties. 
The lot decided that they should not administer " the 
sacrament" for the ensuing year — viz. 1793. The 
letter in which this result is communicated to the 
Members of the Societies by the President and Secretary 
of the Conference is so characteristic that we must 
transcribe it from Mr. Smith's pages, vol. ii. p. 686 : — 
"Very dear Brethren, — The Conference desire us to 
write to you in their name in the most tender and 
affectionate manner, and to inform you of the event of 
their deliberations concerning the administration of the 
Lord's Supper. After debating the subject time after 
time, we were greatly divided in sentiment. In short, 
we knew not what to do that peace and union might be 
preserved. At last one of the senior brethren " (Mr. 
Pawson, the destroyer of Wesley's quarto Shakspeare) 
"proposed that we should commit the matter to God 
by putting the question to the lot, considering that the 
oracles of God declare that ' the lot causeth contentions 
to cease, and parteth between the mighty ;' and again 
that 'the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole dis- 
posing thereof is of the Lord;' and considering also 
that we have the example of the Apostles themselves in 
a matter which we thought, all things considered, of 

c 



18 CKTTICAL KSSWS. 

less importance. We accordingly prepared the lots, 
and four of us prayed. God was surely then present, 
yea, His glory filled the room. Almost all the preachers 
were in tears : and as they afterwards confessed, felt an 
undoubted assurance that God Himself would decide. 
Mr. Adam Clarke was then called upon to draw the lot, 
which was 'You shall not administer the sacrament 
the ensuing year.' All were satisfied. All submitted. 
All was peace. Every conscience seemed to testify- 
that every heart said, 'It is the Lord; let Him do 
what seemeth Him good/ A minute was then formed 
according to the previous explanation of the lots, that 
the sacrament should not be administered in our con- 
nexion for the ensuing year, except in London. The 
prohibition reaches the clergy of the Church of Eng- 
land, as well as the other brethren. 

" We do assure you, dear brethren, that we should 
have been perfectly resigned if the lot had fallen on 
the other side. Yea, we should, as far as Christian 
prudence and expediency would have justified, have 
encouraged the administration of the Lord's Supper by 
the preachers; because we had not a doubt but God 
was uncommonly present on the occasion, and did 
Himself decide. 

" Signed in behalf of the Conference, 

"Alexander Mather, President, 
" Thomas Coke, Secretary " 

This curious transaction — a rare and grotesque com- 
bination of absurdity, profancness, and superstition, 
scarcely surpassed even in the annals of Methodism — 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 19 

closed the question for a year ; but at the expiration of 
that time it was, of course, reopened. Conference judi- 
ciously contrived to throw the responsibility and the 
odium of dealing with it on their people themselves by 
allowing "the sacrament" to be administered where 
the society was unanimous, or nearly so, for that course. 
The circular of Conference on this and sundry other 
subjects in 1794 is again noteworthy; we transcribe 
one or two of the resolutions, commending them to the 
consideration of the "Wesleyans of the present day : — 
" 1st, All ecclesiastical titles, such as Reverend, &c, 
shall be laid aside, as also gowns, bands, &c. 2nd, 
Preaching in Church hours shall not be permitted, 
except for special reasons. 3rd, As the Lord's Supper 
has not been administered except when the Society has 
been unanimous for it and would not be contented 
without it, it is now agreed that the Lord's Supper 
shall not be administered in future, when the union 
and concord of the Society can be preserved without it. 
4th, The preachers shall not perform the office of bap- 
tism, except for the desirable ends of love and concord," 
&c— Smith, ii. 691, 692. 

Mr. Smith's chapter upon the Scriptural character of 
the " "Wesleyan Methodist Church " is instructive. He 
evidently feels himself, and the hyper-hierarchical 
system of which he is the champion, to be in a some- 
what awkward position. In fact, Wesleyanism, as 
settled by the Conference, is between two fires, to both 
of which it is impossible, in the nature of things, to 
make efficient answer at the same time. On the one 
hand, there is the Church with a polity unquestionably 

c 2 



20 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

handed down from very ancient times, and, as we firmly 
believe, coeval with Christianity itself; with rulers 
claiming to derive their office and authority from the 
Apostles; with ministers commissioned through cer- 
tain and definite channels — channels which the whole 
Church for ages recognized as the only legitimate ones 
for conveying such a commission, and which those only 
reject who have separated from the Church of their 
fathers. On the other hand, there is the thorough- 
going Dissenting system, which is Whiggery applied 
to matters ecclesiastical. This system regards the indi- 
vidual congregation as the source of authority, and the 
supreme and sufficient referee in matters doctrinal and 
ceremonial. On this view, the minister is the minister 
not so much of Christ as of the congregation ; having 
such powers and duties as it may entrust to him ; and 
holding his commission from it. It is true, indeed, 
tfcat the most thorough- going Dissenter professes to 
regard the Bible as his rule of faith. That, however, 
makes little difference, if the interpretation is left un- 
restrictedly in his own hands. It has been said, not 
without much truth, that it comes to much the same 
thing, whether a man writes a Bible for himself or in- 
terprets the one he has as he pleases. This system, 
which its friends would call religious liberty, its foes 
religious licence, is the one to which strong leanings 
have manifested themselves from time to time in the 
connexion, and which, soon after Wesley's death, found 
an advocate in Mr. Kilham. This gentleman was, 
agreeably to those instincts of self-preservation which 
have always strongly marked the proceedings of Con- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 21 

ference, expelled in 1796, and became the founder of 
the New Connexion. 

Thus does Methodism stand between two systems, 
with the disadvantages of both, and the advantages of 
neither. Its ministers have not the prestige and innate 
authority which attaches to those of an ancient and 
Catholic community ; while they claim a power not 
less irresponsible and absolute than any which has 
ever been challenged as of divine right by the most 
despotic hierarchy the Church has seen. An awkward 
consciousness of these things pervades Mr. Smith's 
defence of the Wesleyan ministry. He addresses him- 
self first to the Churchmen, and handles his argument 
in the shallow mode usual amongst Dissenters. He 
first misapprehends (we use the term in charity — we 
might say, misstates) the grounds on which the Church 
rests her claims, and then triumphantly refutes his own 
misapprehension. A well-informed man ought not to 
need to be told that the doctrine of the Apostolical Suc- 
cession is not affected by denying that St. Peter was ever 
at Rome, nor even by the impossibility of proving by 
positive evidence that each and every Bishop in the 
line was canonically consecrated. It is no new dis- 
covery that the words i7ri<rico7roc and -irpsafivTepoQ are 
applied in the New Testament to the same individuals ; 
and it is quite obvious that that fact goes no way at all 
towards showing that the office and authority termed 
by us episcopal cannot be traced in the New Testament 
times. But had Mr. Smith been blessed with a fair 
amount of those logical powers which distinguished the 
founder of his sect, he would have seen ere this that the 



'2'2 CRITICAL KSSAVS. 

principles on which he takes his stand as against the 
Church ought, in consistency, to carry him into Con- 
gregationalism. We must admit, however, that he 
makes out a better case against that antagonist from 
the opposite quarter. He triumphantly proves against 
the Independent, and Dissenters of that stamp, that 
presbyters ought to " rule, lead, tend, and govern " 
their flocks; as also that the Apostolic and primitive 
Churches formed one body, though of many members. 
But he cannot, or will not, see that although all this 
vindicates his sect, supposing it to be the ancient Church 
of the land, it utterly condemns it when it is othericise. 
If the laity should be ruled by their presbyters, as Mr. 
Smith decidedly thinks they ought to be, what was the 
original revolt of the Wesleyans from the Church into 
which they were baptized, but a wicked rebellion ? If 
the various Christian Churches should form one society, 
a*nd the principle of " Connexionalism " as exemplified 
in that closely compacted body the Wesleyan Me- 
thodists is so thoroughly Scriptural and Apostolic, what 
else was it than a sacrilegious schism, wrought in 
defiance of Scripture, the Apostles, and the Church 
Catholic also, when Mr. Smith's co-religionists would 
be satisfied with nothing less than setting themselves 
up as a complete and independent Church to them- 
selves? Mr. Smith, in his hot pursuit of the "Low 
Dissenters," pushes the rout too far, and lays himself 
open to a most dangerous assault from behind. Like 
the man in Hogarth's famous picture of "The Elec- 
tion," who sits on the end of the hanging sign, and 
saws through the beam before him, his must zealous 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 23 

endeavours only hasten his own downfall. On this point, 
and, indeed, on several others in the Wesleyanism system, 
those words of Isaac Taylor are striking — " In respect 
of the position of the Methodist ministers towards the 
people, which is that of irresponsible 'lords of God's 
heritage/ the professedly Christian world is thus parted 
— on the one side stand all Protestant Churches, Epis- 
copal and non-Episcopal, "Wesleyanism excepted; on 
the other side stands the Church of Rome, with its 
sympathizing adherents, the malcontents of the English 
Church, and the "Wesleyan Conference. The position, 
maintained alone by a Protestant body, must be re- 
garded as false in principle, and as in an extreme 
degree ominous V — "Wesley and Methodism, p. 268. 

1 The claims made by Conference on behalf of the Wesleyan 
ministers are scarcely estimated in their true extent by those out- 
side of the Connexion. We transcribe the following statement of 
them given by the Eev. J. B. Marsden [Christian Churches and 
Sects, vol. ii. pp. 442, 443] as that of the Conference of 1835 and its 
organs : — 

" Christ has empowered the ministers of the Gospel to govern or 
regulate the Church by salutary discipline : He hJs committed to 
them the keys of the Church : in every section of the Church of 
Christ the pastor must bear the keys, or he is not the pastor of 
Christ's own making ; it is for the ministers of Christ, the pastors 
of the Church, to reprove, rebuke with all authority, admonish, 
warn, and finally, when they judge necessary, to reject offenders 
from Church communion." " Jesus Christ has not empowered the 
Church to interfere with the minister in the use of the keys." 
"The ministry makes the Church, rather than the Church the 
ministry." " Every thing flows from this source. Humanly speak- 
ing, the ministry is the centre of light and power : all things grow 
out of it." " The minister of Christ is your judge as God's minister, 
and you are not to judge him." [Yet 



24 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

We believe that no such phenomenon was designed 
or foreseen by Wesley himself. Exalted as were his 
notions of the value and importance of his society, it 
can hardly be doubted that he regarded it only as a 
sort of evangelizing supplement to the Established 
Church. To hold otherwise is to convict him of dis- 
ingenuousness and folly. Of the former, because he 
steadily disclaimed any intention of separating from the 
Church, even while pushed on by his confederates into 
acts of schism ; of the latter, because, while the society 
is minutely and excessively organized, it is, at least as 
Wesley left it, wholly wanting in all the essentials of 
an independent ecclesiastical community. It is not to be 
believed that he dreamed of a body of preachers, whom 
he could not be brought to recognize as clergymen at 
all, exercising a spiritual despotism over the faith and 
practice of the members of his societies, such as, if 
attempted by a priest of the Church, or any number of 
priests, would bring down an irresistible storm of indig- 
nation. The Minutes of Conference are the statutes of 
the Methodist societies. Its members are elected by 
itself: it is purely self-perpetuated. Its deliberations 
are secret, its authority absolute, without repentance 
and without appeal. All is on the platform of the 
narrowest and most despotic oligarchy. This kind of 
const itution is thoroughly according to Wesley's auto- 
Yet something like a quarter of a million of Englishmen actually 
submit themselves to a priestly authority thus audacious in its 
claims, and created some sixty years ago by the mere arbitrary fiat 
of a set of men whom the founder of their sect himself could never 
he brought to recognize as clergy, or as in any way constituting a 
Church at all ! 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 25 

cratic temperament ; it is, moreover, intelligible enough, 
if we believe him to have regarded the connexion as a 
machinery auxiliary to the Church, intended to reach 
the masses of the people, at that time certainly neglected, 
in Wesley's opinion unprovided for, by the regular 
Church system; but it is altogether an unaccountable 
and incomprehensible polity if we take the orthodox 
Wesley an view, and believe that Wesley meant it to serve 
as the scheme for a complete ecclesiastical constitution. 
Hence from the time of Wesley's death to the pre- 
sent day, continual convulsions have attended the appli- 
cation of Wesley's regimen to purposes it was never 
meant to serve. The most serious of these took place 
during Dr. Bunting's ministry, and in almost all he 
bore a part, generally a leading part. His personal 
authority was for many years greater in the society 
than that ever exercised by any individual, except 
Wesley himself, and it was always exerted in one direc- 
tion, i. e. stern repression of any attempts at reform, 
either of doctrine or discipline. His inflexibility on 
these points undoubtedly has very seriously diminished 
the numbers of the society, but has greatly contributed 
to its homogeneousness and discipline. The Wesleyans 
may now justly boast of their unanimity. It is a point 
in which they contrast most advantageously with other 
denominations, and even with the Church. Yet this 
excellence, when examined, is seen at once to be not 
the unity of the Catholic Church, but the singularity of 
a sect. Wesleyans differ amongst themselves like other 
people ; but when they differ the agitation is soon 
settled by a secession, and the founding of a new sect; 



'26 CRITICAL KSSAYS. 

the new ideas will not assimilate to the old economy ; 
those who hold them withdraw of their own accord, or 
failing that, are expelled. 

The first volume of the life of Dr. Bunting, the 
only volume as yet (1864) published, dwells on the 
childhood and youth of its subject, and on the earlier 
and less important days of his ministry. It does this 
with a minuteness which is so curious as at first to be 
amusing, but which soon becomes tiresome. Much 
may be justly excused to the partiality of a son : but 
we could wish Mr. Bunting, in composing his biography, 
had advised with some sensible literary friend, if such 
he has — above all, with one not a Methodist. Writers 
of that persuasion have some striking and very dis- 
agreeable affinities with the Univers, and with Cardinal 
Wiseman, in his Ultramontane moods. They hang in 
profound admiration over the words and deeds of the 
man they delight to honour as all alike wonderful; 
they expatiate with zealous adulation over the most 
trifling details of his person and his belongings ; they 
call upon us to receive every such crumb of information 
devoutly and thankfully, and to say grace as over a 
feast of fat things. These writers aim at unction ; and 
that being of all graces the least self-conscious, they 
fall into the nauseous extreme but a short step removed 
from it— viz. an oily credulity hardly distinguishable 
from cant. The Life of Dr. Bunting is not by any 
means a bad specimen of the class of works to which 
it belongs. Mr. Bunting might write well if he would 
take off the spiritual spectacles through which he feels 
it de riyueur to look at every thing, and would mortify 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 27 

the affectation of crowding his pages with fragments of 
hymns often either stale or stupid, and with Scripture 
phraseology coolly subsuming the worthies of his own 
sect under terms belonging to apostles and martyrs, or 
perhaps to One greater still. But the Methodist has 
his reliquary as well as the Romanist ; the latter gar- 
nishes it with rags and bones, the former with those 
petty and sordid details of the lower life which can 
never be transfigured by being handled as sacred sub- 
jects, but rather, when so treated, vulgarize the lan- 
guage and style which should be kept sacred, and mar 
its efficacy when it is wanted for its proper ends. 

We need not illustrate these remarks by an extract. 
They will be intelligible to any Churchman who opens 
Mr. Bunting's biography almost at random. Neither 
may we — tempting as the subject is, and closely con- 
nected with Wesley and his work — enlarge upon the 
subject of revivals, or of the instantaneous conversions, 
marked then as now by bodily manifestations, which 
gave such notoriety to the early stages of the Wesley an 
movement. 

To such pretended marvels, relied on as they are by 
Methodists as proofs that their new teaching is of God, 
the witty remarks of Tertullian on the Gnostic mira- 
cles may, with a little accommodation, be applied: — 
"Yolo igitur et virtutes eorum proferri; nisi quod 
agnosco maximam virtutem eorum qua Apostolos in per- 
versum semulantur, illi enim de insanis sanos faciebant, 
isti de sanis insanos faciunt." — DePrsescriptione, ch. xxx. 

It is dangerous to prophesy, and yet there seems no 
great risk in predicting that Methodism must either 



28 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

undergo a thorough change of principles and polity or 
fall into the languishing state which has crept over 
more than one once-flourishing and predominant sect. 
That the process of slow consumption has already com- 
menced seems likely enough. We do not hear now-a- 
days of those vast ingatherings of people which were 
the triumphs of the first preachers. Wesleyans form a 
circle — very peculiar, very marked, very respectable, 
often wealthy, but seeming to dwindle rather than en- 
large. The excessive interference with the personal 
spiritual concerns of its members, which is part of the 
system, always will and always ought to prevent its 
overspreading the land. Methodism, of all Protestant 
denominations, is the most un- Protestant.. Like the 
Confessional, it takes the spiritual charge of the indi- 
vidual out of his own hands. It will not be satisfied 
without putting its seal on the very thoughts. Nothing 
in. the religious life is left private or uncontrolled. As 
a consequence, it never reaches to the depths of the 
soul at all ; it is cognizant of nothing that cannot be 
talked of and discussed at a meeting. From religious 
experiences so handled all freshness and spirit soon 
evaporate ; and the hyper-organized machinery in- 
tended to generate godliness turns out only a spurious 
and self-complacent pietism. So it is too often, we 
fear, with Wesleyanism ; and unless this artificial and 
intrusive discipline on the one hand, and its highly 
oligarchical government on the other, be largely modi- 
fied, its days of popularity and extension are past for 
ever. And yet reforms in this direction could hardly 
be carried without driving large numbers of Methodists, 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 29 

and those of the better sort, back to that Church which 
they never ought to have left, and which, perhaps, had 
not their own rise coincided with the period of her own 
deepest sloth and worldliness, might, as we cannot but 
think she ought, have found means to direct and to 
utilize their strong zeal and earnest aims at a high 
standard of religiousness. 



ESSAY II. 



Essays and Reviews. J. W. Parker and Son. 

The appearance of this volume is a sign of the times, 
and a somewhat portentous one. If it were the pro- 
duction of an individual, it would still be sufficiently 
remarkable, for religious speculations such as charac- 
terize the Essays and Eeviews do not adventure them- 
selves into the world without a sort of consciousness 
that appreciation at least, if not welcome, awaits them. 
The laws of supply and demand have an instinct of 
their own, and they operate in philosophy and theology 
as well as in commerce. Seldom have we in these, or 
in any other matters, occasion to say " The hour is 
come but not the man." " The theologian," Mr. Jowett 
observes, "may have peace in the thought that he is 
subject to the conditions of his age rather than one of 
its moving powers." The rule of the thinker, like that 
of the statesman, seems to be provided for him by some 
mightier overruling than mere human agencies. His 
ideas, and the words which convey them, fall on the 
minds of his generation like sparks on the tinder, and 
light up a flame which searches through and through 
existing systems and institutions, consuming the wood, 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 31 

the hay, and the stubble ; leaving unscathed only what 
is of durable, because of diviner, material. Such thoughts 
as these must not be so insisted on as to put out of 
sight the personal responsibility which attaches to 
every Christian man ; and in the highest degree to 
those whose abilities enable them to influence others 
for good or for evil ; yet they are true so far as they 
go, and they give to a bundle of essays on the religious 
topics of the day, such as that before us, a twofold 
interest. We are led to think of it not only as an ex- 
position of the sentiments and conclusions of certain 
thinkers, but as an index also of the thoughts which 
are working in the minds of men about us. In both 
points of view the Essays and Reviews are well worthy 
of attention. 

Turning for the present away from the reflections 
suggested by the mere fact that seven learned and dis- 
tinguished members of our two ancient Universities — 
five of them, by- the- bye, of Oxford, two of them Pro- 
fessors of that University, and two others entrusted 
with chief responsibility in important educational es- 
tablishments — should be banded together in the joint 
production of a series of essays like this, let us state 
the conclusions which these able writers have undertaken 
to recommend to the Christian public, and more espe- 
cially to their fellow-Churchmen. And here we must 
draw a line of demarcation between two of the essays 
before us and the other five which are bound up with 
them in the same covers. The first essay, by Dr. 
Temple, " On the Education of the World," contains 
little or nothing which need give pain or occasion 



32 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

surprise. It exhibits the broad views of the writer, of 
course, and is written with a certain tendency to over- 
generalization and viewiness. But it is little more 
than an elaborate and sustained exemplification of the 
common-place analogy which may be drawn between 
the growth and education of the individual man and 
those of the human race. Its scope is to exhibit the 
effect upon the race at large of the peculiarities of each 
nation and age, and to trace in such effect the over- 
ruling wisdom which reaches from one end to another, 
and causes all to work together for the progress of 
mankind to perfection. The objections to such a theory 
are as familiar as the theory itself, and we forbear to 
particularize them — for our limited space must be rather 
devoted to the strange companions with which Dr. 
Temple is associated. Along with him, however, may 
be ranged — at least from our present view-point — 
Mr. Pattison's essay on " The Tendencies of Religious 
Thought in England, 1688—1750." This very able 
tractate is almost entirely of a historical character, and 
affords little opportunity for discussing and enforcing 
any peculiar opinions which the writer himself may 
hold. Neither is it like Mr. Pattison to force such 
opportunity when it is not offered to him by the nature 
of his undertaking. He is one of those patient thinkers 
and painstaking writers who carefully possess them- 
selves of the phenomena belonging to the subject before 
them, add little de suo, and endeavour to derive their 
theories from a strict examination of facts and docu- 
ments. His essay has not the genius and originality 
which distinguish some others in this volume, neither 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 33 

has it that immediate attraction for the reader which is 
exercised by discussions of questions which are in daily 
agitation ; yet it is perhaps for solid and durable worth 
the most important literary contribution of the whole 
seven. The sixty years following the Revolution of 
1688 are, generally speaking, far too superficially and 
contemptuously thought of. They are to many amongst 
ourselves pretty much what " the dark ages " were in 
popular estimation some forty years ago, and that for 
pretty much the same reason. They are little known, 
and are therefore much despised. Mr. Pattison traces 
with acuteness and intelligence the general bearings 
of religious opinion and controversy in these years, and 
exhibits the results of much reading and conscientious 
investigation with clearness and precision, though in a 
somewhat laboured and awkward style. He shows — we 
think successfully — that the Christian writers of those 
years did their part, and that part a necessary though 
not a noble one, to advance the progress of Christian 
doctrine, and to challenge, as against the besetting 
temptations of society, the obedience of their contem- 
poraries to Christian precepts. His summary of what 
was, and what was not, effected by the Christian advo- 
cates whom it falls within his plan to consider, is 
instructive : — 

Upon the whole, the writings of that period are serviceable to us 
chiefly as showing what can and what cannot be effected by common- 
sense thinking in theology. It is of little consequence to inquire 
whether or not the objections of the Deists and Socinians were 
removed by the answers brought to meet them. Perhaps, on the 
whole, we might be borne out in saying that the defence is at least 
as good as the attack ; and so, that even on the ground of common 

D 



34 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

reason, the Christian evidences may be arranged in such a way as to 
balance the common-sense improbability of the supernatural — that 
"there are three chances to one for revelation, and only two against it." 
{Tracts for the Times, No. 85.) Had not circumstances given a new 
direction to religious interests, the Deistical controversy might have 
gone on indefinitely, and the " amcebsean strain of objection and 
reply, et cantare pares et resjoondere parati " — have been pro- 
longed to this day without any other result. But that result forces 
on the mind the suggestion that either religious faith has no 
existence, or that it must be to be reached by some other road than 
that of the " trial of the witnesses." It is a reductio ad absurdum 
of common-sense philosophy, of home-baked theology, when we find 
that the result of the whole is that " it is safer to believe in a God, 
lest, if there should happen to be one, He might send us to hell for 
denying His existence." (Maurice, Essays, p. 236.) If a religion 
be wanted which shall debase instead of elevating, this should be its 
creed. If the religious history of the eighteenth century proves 
any thing, it is this : — That good sense, the best good sense, when 
it sets to work with the materials of human nature and Scripture to 
construct a religion, will find its way to an ethical code, irreproach- 
able in its contents, and based on a just estimate and wise observa- 
tion of the facts of life, ratified by Divine sanctions in the shape of 
hoj>e and fear, of future rewards and penalties of obedience and 
disobedience. This the eighteenth century did and did well. It 
has enforced the truths of natural morality with a solidity of argu- 
ment and variety of proof which they have not received since the 
Stoical epoch, if then. But there its ability ended. When it came 
to the supernatural part of Christianity its embarrassment began. 
It was forced to keep it as much in the background as possible, or to 
bolster it up by lame and inadequate reasonings. The philosophy 
of common sense had done its own work ; it attempted more only to 
show, by its failure, that some higher organon was needed for the 
establishment of supernatural truth. The career of the evidential 
school, its success and failure — its success in vindicating the ethical 
part of Christianity and the regulative aspect of revealed truth, its 
failure in establishing the supernatural and speculative part, have 
enriched the history of doctrine with a complete refutation of that 
method as an instrument of theological investigation. — Essays and 
Reviews, pp. 295—297. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 35 

We have noticed the first and the sixth of the seven 
papers comprised in this volume of Essays and Reviews 
— papers which the reader is carefully apprised at the 
beginning are "written by their several authors in 
entire independence of each other, and without concert 
or comparison." It is only due to Dr. Temple and Mr. 
Pattison, the authors of the first and the sixth of these 
papers, that this should be stated and recollected, for it 
is to the other five that we feel it our duty to direct 
special attention. Though, with one exception, of no 
extraordinary brilliancy, these five compositions are so 
unequivocal and so significant in their doctrinal ten- 
dencies, that their composition by authors of such 
station and standing as those who own them, and their 
emission by one of our leading publishers, is not a 
little noteworthy. We begin with that which stands 
last in the volume, Professor Jowett's essay ' ' On the 
Interpretation of Scripture." This essay, though it 
bears marks of having been finished roughly — the 
threads of ideas being often broken short off with a 
hastily written hint thrown in for the reader, in the 
shape of a parenthesis, as to the direction in which the 
sequel may be searched for — is still not only the longest 
and most elaborate, but both in matter and in style by 
far the most attractive, in the volume. We do not, 
indeed, observe in it much which need cause surprise to 
those who have perused the author's other writings. 
He is, perhaps, more outspoken, and the conclusions to 
which his method of dealing with Holy Scripture 
points are less ambiguously indicated. But, on the 
whole, the essay is little more than the formal enuncia- 

d 2 



36 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

tion, illustration, and defence of principles of exegesis 
rendered familiar to the student by Professor Jowett's 
application of them in his work on certain of St. Paul's 
Epistles. The method in which the Greek Professor of 
Oxford wishes to deal with Scripture is easily explained. 
Towards the conclusion of his article he tells us him- 
self : — 

Of what has been said, this is the sum — " That Scripture, like 
other books, has one meaning, which is to be gathered from itself 
without reference to the adaptations of Fathers or Divines: and 
without regard to a priori notions about its nature and origin. It 
is to be interpreted like other books, with attention to the character 
of its authors, and the prevailing state of civilization and knowledge, 
with allowance for peculiarities of style and language, and modes of 
thought and figures of speech. Yet not without a sense that as we 
read there grows upon us the witness of God in the world, antici- 
pating in a rude and primitive age the truth that was to be, shining 
more and more unto the perfect day in the life of Christ, which again 
is reflected from different points of view in the teaching of His 
Apostles." 

The essay consists of an elaborate attempt to prove 
that commentators hitherto have made it their business 
rather to discover what Scripture may be made to mean 
than what it does mean ; that the whole theological and 
doctrinal system of the Church is not based on Scrip- 
ture, but is evolved according to general laws, which 
control the tendencies of speculation, and according to 
the exigencies of the Church ; and, when so evolved, is 
wont afterwards to be sought and found in Scripture ; 
that no doctrinal system is discoverable or deducible 
from the teaching of the Bible, and that when we 
regard the Bible from any such view-point, we entirely 
miss the spirit of the writers. Mr. Jowett's motto in 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 37 

following up his argument is "thorough;" he spares 
nothing, and sticks at nothing. The audacity of some 
of his statements is startling indeed : — 

Nor for any of the higher or supernatural views of inspiration is 
there any foundation in the Gospels or Epistles. There is no ap- 
pearance in their writings that the Evangelists or Apostles had any 
inward gift, or were subject to any power external to them, different 
from that of preaching or teaching which they daily exercised ; nor 
do they any where lead us to suppose that they were free from error 
or infirmity. St. Paul writes like a Christian teacher, exhibiting 
all the emotions and vicissitudes of human feeling; speaking, indeed, 
with authority, but hesitating in difficult cases, and more than once 
correcting himself, corrected, too, by the course of events in his ex- 
pectation of the coming of Christ. The Evangelist " who saw it, 
bare record, and his record is true : and he knoweth that he saith 
true " — (John xix. 35). Another Evangelist does not profess to be 
an original narrator, but only "to set forth in order a declaration of 
what eye-witnesses had delivered," like many others whose writings 
have not been preserved to us (Luke i. 1, 2). And the result is in 
accordance with the simple profession and style in which they 
describe themselves ; there is no appearance, that is to say, of in- 
sincerity or want of faith ; but neither is there perfect accuracy or 
agreement. One supposes the original dwelling-place of our Lord's 
parents to have been Bethlehem (Matthew ii. 1. 22), another Naza- 
reth (Luke ii. 4) ; they trace His genealogy in different ways ; one 
mentions the thieves blaspheming, another has preserved to after- 
ages the record of the penitent thief; they appear to differ about the 
day and hour of the Crucifixion ; the narrative of the woman who 
anointed our Lord's feet with ointment is told in all four, each 
narrative having more or less considerable variations. These are a 
few instances of the differences which arose in the traditions of the 
earliest ages respecting the history of our Lord. But he who 
wishes to investigate the character of the saered writings should 
not be afraid to make a catalogue of them all with the view of 
estimating their cumulative weight. (For it is obvious that the 
answer which would be admitted in the case of a single discrepancy, 
will not be the true answer when there are many.) He should 
further consider that the narratives in which these discrepancies 



38 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

occur are short and partly identical — a cycle of tradition beyond 
which the knowledge of the early Fathers never travels, though, if 
all the things that Jesus said and did had been written down, " the 
world itself could not have contained the books that would have 
been written " — (John xx. 30 ; xxi. 25). For the proportion which 
these narratives bear to the whole subject, as well as their relation 
to one another, is an important element in the estimation of 
differences. In the same way, he who would understand the nature 
of prophecy in the Old Testament, should have the courage to examine 
how far its details were minutely fulfilled. The absence of such a 
fulfilment may further lead him to discover that he took the letter 
for the spirit in expecting it. — Essays and Reviews, pp. 345 — 347. 

Consider, for example, the extraordinary and unreasonable im- 
portance attached to single words, sometimes of doubtful meaning, 
in reference to any of the following subjects : — 1, Divorce ; 2, Mar- 
riage with a Wife's Sister ; 3, Inspiration ; 4, the Personality of the 
Hply Spirit; 5, Infant Baptism; 6, Episcopacy; 7, Divine Right 
of Kings ; 8, Original Sin. There is, indeed, a kind of mystery in 
the way in which the chance words of a simple narrative, the 
occurrence of some accidental event, the use even of a figure of 
speech, or a mistranslation of a word in Latin or English, have 
affected the thoughts of future ages and distant countries. Nothing 
so slight that it has not been caught at ; nothing so plain that it 
may not be explained away. What men have brought to the text 
they have also found there ; what has received no interpretation or 
witness, either in the customs of the Church or in " the thoughts of 
many hearts," is still " an unknown tongue " to them. It is with 
Scripture as with oratory, its effect partly depends on the prepara- 
tion in the mind or in circumstances for the reception of it. There 
is no use of Scripture, no quotation or even misquotation of a word 
which is not a power in the world, when it embodies the spirit of a 
great movement or is echoed by the voice of a large party. — Pp. 
358, 359. 

To attribute to St. Paul or the Twelve the abstract notion of 
Christian truth which afterwards sprang up in the Catholic Church, 
is the same sort of anachronism as to attribute to them a system of 
philosophy. It is the same error as to attribute to Homer the 
ideas of Thales or Heraclitus, or to Thales the more developed 
principles of Aristotle and Plato. Many persons who have no diffi- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 3£) 

culty in tracing the growth of institutions, yet seem to fail in recog- 
nizing the more subtle progress of an idea. It is hard to imagine 
the absence of conceptions with which we are familiar ; to go back 
to the germ of what we know only in maturity ; to give up what 
has grown to us, and become a part of our minds. In the present 
case, however, the development is not difficult to prove. The state- 
ments of Scripture are unaccountable if we deny it ; the silence of 
Scripture is equally unaccountable. Absorbed as St. Paul was in 
the person of Christ with an intensity of faith and love of which in 
modern days and at this distance of time we can scarcely form a 
conception — high as he raised the dignity of his Lord above all 
things in heaven and earth — looking to Him as the Creator of all 
things, and the head of quick and dead, he does not speak of 
Him as "equal to the Father," or "of one substance with the 
Father." Much of the language of the Epistles (passages, for 
example, such as Eomans i. 2 ; Philippians ii. 6) would lose their 
meaning if distributed in alternate clauses between our Lord's 
humanity and divinity. Still greater difficulties would be intro- 
duced into the Gospels by the attempt to identify them with the 
Creeds. "We should have to suppose that He was and was not 
tempted ; that when He prayed to His Father He prayed also to 
Himself; that He knew and did not know "of that hour" of 
which He as well as the angels were ignorant. How could He 
have said, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" or, 
" Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from Me ? " How could 
He have doubted whether, " when the Son cometh, He shall find 
faith upon the earth?" These simple and touching words have 
to be taken out of their natural meaning and connexion to be made 
the theme of apologetic discourses, if we insist on reconciling them 
with the distinctions of later ages. — Pp. 354, 355. 

We must observe, in fairness to Mr. Jowett, that in 
the sequel of the last quoted passage he objects not 
only to the Athanasian, but to any other precise and 
definite rule of faith, as, for instance, the Unitarian; 
and that of the "principles, rules, or truths mentioned" 
in his enumeration in another of the above extracts, 
" many have sufficient grounds ;" but then " the weak- 



40 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

nes8 is the attempt to derive them from Scripture." In 
what sense Professor Jowett holds that each and every 
one of the Thirty-nine Articles is agreeable to Scrip- 
ture, as he must have repeatedly declared that he does, 
we forbear to ask, along with other painful questions of 
a kindred nature. It is only too plain that the teach- 
ing of the above, and of many other passages, is directly 
subversive of the doctrinal system of our Church, and 
directly antagonistic to her cardinal principles. The 
three Creeds are imposed on English Churchmen on 
the very ground that they "may be proved by most 
certain warrants of Holy Scripture," which is just what 
Mr. Jowett denies of them ; and it is held to be the 
characteristic glory and boast of our Church that she 
requires as terms of communion, and lays down as her 
standard of doctrine, nothing beyond what Scripture 
determines, and the (Ecumenical Councils and ancient 
Fathers of the Church have collected therefrom. But 
Scripture, according to Mr. Jowett, is no doctrinal 
standard at all; and it is these very Fathers and 
Councils, so repeatedly cited by our Church and all her 
leading writers as authoritative, which have, in the 
judgment of Mr. Jowett, overlaid Scripture with a 
thick deposit of dogma, hiding from mankind the pure 
ore of spiritual teaching beneath ; and it is these which 
exemplify the very influences which must be first of all 
discarded if we would approach Scripture in the true 
spirit of an interpreter. We cannot follow Mr. Jowett 
through the series of attacks he makes upon a multitude 
of tenets generally received as part of " the faith once 
delivered to the saints." The sweep of his criticisms 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 41 

may be judged of, and their rashness estimated, by his 
mode of dealing with the doctrine of Original Sin. He 
says, " The justice of Grod, ' who rewardeth every man 
according to his works/ and the Christian scheme of 
redemption has (sic) been staked on two figurative ex- 
pressions of St. Paul, to which there is no parallel in 
any other part of Scripture (1 Cor. xv. 22 — ' For as in 
Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made live/ 
and the corresponding passage in Rom. v. 12), notwith- 
standing the declaration of the Old Testament, as also 
of the New, ' Every soul shall bear its own iniquity/ 
and' 'Neither this man sinned nor his parents.' " — P 361. 
Elsewhere Mr. Jowett hints pretty plainly his opinion 
that the progress of discovery has disproved the Mosaic 
narrative of the creation of man : he seems quite pre- 
pared to admit that the human race overspread the 
earth not from one but from many centres ; and that it 
may have originated through the development of 
species. If all this be so, what becomes of the head- 
ship of our race in Adam ; and again in the antitype, 
the Second Adam ? What becomes of the Incarnation 
in all its deeper bearings and significances ? What of 
the Atonement, the doctrine of which is conditioned by 
that of the Incarnation ? What of our justification ? 
What of the general resurrection, if we be in no real 
sense members of a risen Head ? What of the whole 
system of the sacraments ? It is hard indeed to believe 
that Mr. Jowett always thoroughly believes his own 
arguments. When he speaks of the doctrine of Original 
Sin as "staked upon two figurative expressions," it is 
scarcely possible to avoid indignation at a misrepresen- 



42 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

tation so transparent. It is useless to waste a word in 
proving, what every tyro in theological reading would 
easily demonstrate, that the passages themselves and 
the doctrine contained in them are not inconsistent with 
individual responsibility. We rather remark that Mr. 
Jowett quotes two single verses, and intimates that the 
doctrine in question rests on them alone. We wholly 
deny that these are the only two passages of Scripture 
which vindicate the teaching of our Church in her 
Ninth Article. But if they were so, it must surely be 
plain to any one who carefully studies the whole of the 
chapters from which these verses are taken, that it is 
not on isolated figurative expressions, but on the deep and 
broad basis of the whole of the Apostle's argument, that 
the doctrine would, in fact, be built. It crops up, perhaps, 
more explicitly in the particular verses Mr. Jowett refers 
to, but it underlies the whole reasoning of the weighty 
chapters themselves in which the verses occur. Assume 
the doctrine which, on Mr. Jowett's own admission, is 
indicated in these verses, and the meaning, both of the 
verses themselves and of the whole context, and their 
place and scope in the general argument of the Epistles, 
becomes intelligible : abandon the doctrine, in deference 
to the difficulties felt about it by Mr. Jowett (in com- 
mon, be it observed, with the Socinians), as false, and 
mark the results. Either St. Paul means to teach it in 
the above passages, or he does not. If he does, we 
convict him of error, and that on a very fundamental 
point: if he does not, he uses language which could 
not fail to bewilder and mislead in a manner perilous to 
the salvation of his disciples. On the whole, we shall 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 43 

get no further through the intricacies of this difficult 
subject than Pascal, who says — stating the difficulty, 
however, in language which, although defensible on 
the authority of St. Augustine, our Church has de- 
liberately abstained from sanctioning *, — " What can be 
more contrary to the rules of our wretched justice than 
to damn eternally an infant incapable of volition for an 
offence wherein he seems to have had no share, and 
which was committed six thousand years before he was 
born P Certainly nothing shocks us more rudely than 
this doctrine ; and yet without this mystery, the most 
incomprehensible of all, we are incomprehensible to 
ourselves. Man is more inconceivable without this 
mystery, than the mystery is conceivable to man." — 
Pense'es ii. 5. 4. 

But, in truth, it is useless to argue such a point with 
a thinker like Mr. Jowett. He taxes orthodox theo- 
logians with coming to the consideration of Scripture 
prepared beforehand with a doctrinal system which 
they deem it their duty to discover there. No one is 
more manifestly guilty of this kind of prejudgment 
than Mr. Jowett himself. He has made up his mind 

1 The Declaration appended to the Office for Public Baptism of 
Infants asserts : " It is certain by God's Word, that children which 
are baptized, dying before they commit actual sin, are undoubtedly 
saved." This is borrowed from The Institution of a Christian 
Man (1537), which runs thus, p. 35 : " By the sacrament of Bap- 
tism they do also obtain remission of their sins, the grace and 
favour of God, and be made thereby the very sons of God. In- 
somuch as infants and children, dying in their infancy, shall un- 
doubtedly be saved thereby, and else not?' The omission of the 
last words in King Edward's Prayer Book of 1549 is most sig- 
nificant. 



44 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

that certain tenets are not to be believed, or at least not 
believed as doctrines of Scripture— Original Sin for 
instance. Hence° when a text comes in his way in 
which the Church has been wont to hold the objection- 
able dogma to be contained, he sets to work at once to 
explain away the obvious meaning of the words before 
him. It has always seemed to the simple and straight- 
forward Christian, and indeed not less so to the learned 
philologist and theologian, that on many points, at all 
events, the teaching of Scripture is clear and definite. 
But an acquaintance with Mr. Jowett's hermeneutics 
would warn such persons that they are somewhat over- 
hasty. The sentences, the grammar, the syntax, sub- 
jects, predicates, and all the elements of a plain piece 
of didactic composition may be there, as intelligible as 
possible, and pointing to some Catholic article of faith — 
the personality of the Holy Spirit perhaps. " Effugiet 
tamen hsec vincula." Mr. Jowett might laugh at all 
the theological locksmiths that ever tried to forge doc- 
trinal holdfasts. He has solvents, before the application 
of which the most solid seeming scheme of doctrines 
will crumble to nothing. Now St. Paul is speaking 
according to " a mode of thought " of his times, and 
the statements are only relatively true : now the ex- 
pression is figurative, or allegorical, and cannot be 
pressed into any precise meaning whatsoever ; least of 
all that which the Church has always attached to it : 
now the sacred writer is availing himself of an anju- 
mentum ad homincm — the reasoning is only ex conecssis, 
and by consequence is of no weight to us : now we 
come upon a Rabbinical dogma, which may be dis- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 45 

missed at once ; did not the Eabbis utter many puerili- 
ties ? At one time, again, we are bidden to remember 
that " when our Saviour came into the world the Greek 
language was itself in a state of degeneracy and decay ;" 
and are forbidden to argue from its grammatical mean- 
ing on the usual principles of logic and criticism which 
would properly apply to more exact and classical writers : 
at another time it is admitted indeed (as in the texts 
above quoted respecting Original Sin, and the Per- 
sonality of our Lord) that Catholic doctrines do at first 
sight seem to be intended by the writer, but then there 
are other texts which may be brought up against them, 
and the two sets, when laid side by side, are pro- 
nounced plainly contradictory, and it is readily inferred 
that we must not try to systematize. Mr. Jowett's 
handling of Scripture reminds one of Tertullians cha- 
racteristic description of the logic employed by the 
heretics of his day : — " Sequitur qui dialecticam in- 
stituit, artificem struendi et destruendi, versipellem, in 
sententiis coactam, in conjeeturis duram, in argumentis 
operariam contentionum, molestam etiam sibi ipsi, omnia 
retractantem ne quid omnino tractaverit." — De Prae- 
scriptione Hseret. ch. vii. 

One of Mr. Jowett's most amusing traits is the per- 
suasion he has that he is bringing in simpler and more 
certain principles of exegesis. The truth is that Scrip- 
ture in his plastic hands becomes what it has been 
profanely called by a Romish controversialist — a nose 
of wax, which may be pulled any way at the good 
pleasure of him who lists to handle it. It may, under 
Mr. Jowett's manipulation, mean any thing; or, and 



46 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

that in preference, nothing — at least nothing definite 
and particular. His essay may well bear for a motto 
Fiimum exfulgore. If we could become disciples of the 
Oxford Professor of Greek, the Bible would seem to us 
of all books the most deceitful. Inviting us by winning 
and gracious promises of truths for the head and heart 
— truths on which the spirit might stay itself as divinely 
authenticated for its satisfaction — it would seem then 
to us to keep its promise only to the ear while breaking 
it to the hope ; we should be baffled in all attempts to 
realize its statements or reduce them to consistent 
results; we should have before us the most gigantic 
instance the world ever saw of magnificent promises 
coupled with the slenderest performances ; and that in 
a subject where, above all others, such imposition is 
wicked and cruel. 

After the shifting quicksands across which we have 
Ijad to follow Professor Jowett, it is a relief to betake 
ourselves to solid ground, though it be not of the most 
inviting character. "We notice, therefore, next, the 
essay of the only lay contributor to this volume— that 
of Mr. 0. W Goodwin, " On the Mosaic Cosmogony." 
Mr Goodwin does indeed deal in no subtleties, but 
plainly avows his opinion that the Mosaic narrative of 
the creation is utterly irreconcileable with the dis- 
coveries of modern physical science, assigns ably and 
clearly his reasons for being so convinced, and, in con- 
clusion, examines and condemns the attempts which 
have been made by Dean Buckland, Dr. Chalmers, 
Hugh Miller, and others, to show the contrary. It is, 
of course, argued from this inconsistency, that the 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 47 

Mosaic account is not to be esteemed a narrative of 
facts ; and Mr. Goodwin betrays also the little respect 
lie has for the writer as a spiritual teacher by attri- 
buting to him the grossest anthropomorphism. The 
words, "Let us make man in our own image," are, it 
appears, to be explained by those in a following chapter 
— "Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his 
image ! " It is " explaining away " the phrase to in- 
terpret it that Grod made man "perfect," "sinless;" 
and " the Pentateuch abounds in passages showing that 
the Hebrews contemplated the Divine Being in the 
visible form of a man." We need hardly give further 
specimens of Mr. Goodwin's qualifications and bias as 
an interpreter of Holy Scripture; nor would he be 
likely to respect the authority of St. Paul (1 Cor. xi. 7) 
and St. James (iii. 9) as to the true meaning of the 
phrase in question. We would therefore simply observe, 
as regards the general argument of his essay, that we 
shall, for our parts, rest satisfied about the whole 
subject so long as we know, as we do, that some of the 
ablest astronomers and geologists have not found science 
and Scripture antagonistic. We may add, that if the 
savans found their present theories to be in full accord- 
ance with the Mosaic narrative, it is hard to see how 
the scientific enlightenment which would now be so 
great a proof to them of the superhuman wisdom of 
Scripture could have been other than a hopeless stum- 
bling-block to all past ages; and moreover, that this 
very present accordance of Scripture and science would 
be of evil omen for the future, since it is certain that 



48 cnrncAL essays. 

the further progress of discovery would place the two 
more hopelessly at variance than ever. 

The Eev. Professor Baden Powell has a characteristic 
essay on the " Study of the Evidences of Christianity/' 
the upshot of which may be briefly said to be that the 
Evidences are no proper subject of study at all, but 
must be relegated to the domain of faith as distinct 
from fact. The chief stress of the Professor's argument 
is laid on miracles; and he holds that a miracle is a 
priori and from the nature of the case incredible ; it is 
"connected with faith, but inconceivable to reason." 
We give a brief passage or two, lest — so astonishing 
must this position seem — we should be thought to mis- 
represent Professor Powell : — 

Questions of this kind are often perplexed for want of due atten- 
tion to the laws of human thought and belief, and of due distinction 
in ideas and terms. The proposition " that an event may be so in- 
credible intrinsically as to set aside any degree of testimony," .in no 
way applies to or affects the honesty or veracity of that testimony, 
or the reality of the impressions on the minds of the witnesses, so 
far as it relates to the matter of sensible fact, simply. It merely 
means this : that from the nature of our antecedent convictions, the 
probability of some kind of mistake or deception somewhere, though 
we know not where, is greater than the probability of the event 
really happening in the way and from the causes assigned. 

This of course turns on the general grounds of our antecedent 
convictions. The question agitated is not that of mere testimony, 
of its value, or of its failures. It refers to those antecedent con- 
siderations which must govern our entire view of the subject, and 
which, being dependent on higher laws of belief, must be paramount 
to all attestation, or rather belong to a province distinct from it. 
What is alleged is a case of the supernatural ; but no testimony can 
reach to the supernatural; testimony can apply only to apparent 
sensible facts ; testimony can only prove an extraordinary and per- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 49 

haps inexplicable occurrence or phenomenon : that it is due to 
supernatural causes is entirely dependent on the previous belief 
and assumptions of the parties. 

Testimony, after all, is but a second-hand assurance ; it is but a 
blind guide; testimony can avail nothing against reason. The 
essential question of miracles stands quite apart from any con- 
sideration of testimony ; the question would remain the same, if we 
had the evidence of our own senses to an alleged miracle, that is, to 
an extraordinary or inexplicable fact. It is not the mere fact, but 
the cause or explanation of it, which is the point at issue. The 
case, indeed, of the antecedent argument of miracles is very clear, 
however little some are inclined to perceive it. In nature and from 
nature, by science and by reason, we neither have nor can possibly 
have any evidence of a Deity working miracles ; for that we must 
go out of nature and beyond reason. If we could have any such 
evidence from nature, it could only prove extraordinary natural 
effects, which would not be miracles in the old theological sense, as 
isolated, unrelated, and uncaused ; whereas, no physical fact can be 
conceived as unique, or without analogy and relation to others, and 
to the whole system of natural causes. — Essays and Reviews, pp. 
106, 107. 141. 

Our readers will observe that the supernatural ele- 
ment of Scripture is thus deliberately banished from 
the region of historical fact. We shrink from pressing 
a point which has again and again been abundantly- 
demonstrated — that the miraculous is inextricably inter- 
woven with the didactic and the narrative portions of 
Scripture — and content ourselves with indicating what 
the Professor thinks of it in his own words. " Mira- 
culous narratives," he says, " become invested with the 
character of articles of faith, if they be accepted in a 
less certain and positive light, or perhaps as involving 
more or less of the parabolic or mythic character ; or at 
any rate as received in connexion with, and for the 
sake of, the doctrine inculcated.'' He illustrates his 

E 



50 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

view by comparing "doctrines inculcated through para- 
bles," which, however, it is obvious to remark, are not 
to the purpose, because the parables do not profess to 
be historical, while the accounts of the miracles in the 
Bible do. It is impossible to avoid the painful con- 
clusion that Professor Powell regards miracles, pro- 
phecy, and all that implies a direct interposition of 
a supernatural power in human affairs — i.e. the very 
essence and spirit of the Bible, and the idea itself of a 
Eevelation, as purely mythical; invented, doubtless, 
for good purposes, but of no more historical authority 
than the legends which adorn early Roman history. 
It is not that the Gospel witnesses are suspected of dis- 
honesty ; neither are they taxed with simplicity and 
credulity ; neither is their number and the cumulative 
weight of their testimony pronounced insufficient ; but 
no conceivable amount of evidence ought to make us 
give credit to a miracle ; the thing itself is beyond 
belief, even if we saw it with our own eyes. This is, 
indeed, to be a sceptic with a vengeance ! Professor 
Powell turns his back at once upon evidence and argu- 
ment, and tells you that it is useless to waste words ; 
later cm lavares ; his mind is made up to reject any and 
every degree of proof which the case admits of. It 
would be folly to argue with one who gives it out that 
he is predetermined not to be convinced ; but it is not 
uninstructive to trace out the root and cause of unbelief 
so obstinate. 

Professor Powell justifies the suspicion and dread 
with which an exclusive pursuit of the physical sciences 
has so often been by good men regarded. Occupied 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 51 

in tracing the working of the laws of nature, and 
finding these laws to be uniform, the devotee of 
these branches of knowledge is almost irresistibly 
tempted to project out of himself his own ideas and 
impressions, and to fancy the whole universe bound 
over from and to all eternity by the same unchangeable- 
ness which marks that portion over which his observa- 
tions and experiments actually extend. Let it be 
particularly noticed what Professor Powell's view 
assumes. It assumes that nature has always and alto- 
gether been uniform, and it consequently excludes a 
miracle as absolutely incredible. But such an assump- 
tion can only be made on the ground, either that there 
is no Being who has power over nature, which is 
Atheism, or that if there is, He never did and never 
will exercise it, which is begging the whole question. 
The argument of the essay against miracles is, in fact, 
no argument at all ; it is a simple prejudice striving to 
cover its nakedness by borrowing the wherewithal from 
physical science. Each man thinks most highly of his own 
trade and profession, and is apt to recommend for every 
purpose under heaven the material which it is his voca- 
tion to manipulate. Just so it is with Professor Powell. 
There is nothing to him like the laws of nature, and he 
is so enamoured of them that he will not listen to the 
idea of God Himself being above them, and proposes 
with them to overspread the whole field of Scripture 
and theology. The points he raises are in all essentials 
the old objections of Spinoza and of Hume, re -dressed 
in the language of the present day, and more directly 
based upon physical considerations. Old objections 

e 2 



52 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

may often be well met by old answers. The reply of 
Mr. J. S. Mill, himself no mean authority in physical 
philosophy, to tfume, is good also for the essay before 
us: — "A miracle is no contradiction to the laws of 
cause and effect ; it is a new effect supposed to be pro- 
duced by the introduction of a new cause. Of the 
adequacy of that cause, if it exist, there can be no 
doubt; and the only antecedent improbability which 
can be ascribed to the miracle is the improbability that 
any such cause had existence in the case. All, there- 
fore, which Hume has made out is that no evidence can 
be sufficient to prove a miracle to any one who did not 
previously believe the existence of a Being with super- 
natural power; or who believed himself to have full 
proof that the character of the Being whom he re- 
cognizes is inconsistent with his having seen fit to 
interfere on the occasion in question." — System of 
Logic, Book iii. ch. 25. It is, in fact, the con- 
siderations antecedent to testimony, as Professor Powell 
has more than once remarked, which will eventually 
decide us to give or withhold credit as to the miracles 
of Scripture. " Once acknowledge aught higher than 
nature, a kingdom of God, and men the intended 
denizens of it," says Dean Trench upon the subject 
before us, " and the whole argument loses its strength 
and the force of its conclusions. It is like the fabled 
giant, unconquerable so long as it is permitted to rest 
upon the earth out of which it sprung, but easily 
destroyed when once it is lifted into a higher world." — 
On the Miracles, pp. 68, 69. 

Professor Powell does, indeed, recognize a God in 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 53 

many passages of his essay. "We will not carry out to 
their full significance the principles he advances, and 
regard his so doing as an incongruous remnant of anti- 
quated notions cleaving to him, nor as a mere verbal 
condescension to the prejudices of weaker men. But 
we must say that, while acknowledging Him, Professor 
Powell cuts from under himself and us all ground and 
reason for going one jot beyond a bare acknowledgment. 
The Deity, it would seem, does not, and will not, even 
if He can, interfere with the world and its concerns. 
"Creation," says Professor Powell, is "rejected," and 
" is only another name for our ignorance of the mode of 
production." Nature is "pervaded by self-sustaining 
and self-evolving powers." Miracles — that is, extra- 
ordinary interpositions in suspension of these powers — 
can only be credited on principles which would oblige 
us to believe, if respectably vouched for, that two and 
two make five, or that a person had squared the circle. 
If these things be so, why should men any longer 
reverence, worship, and serve One who cannot, or will 
not — or at the very least, does not — reward or punish, 
save or bless? In fact, Professor Powell has got no 
further in his theology than the Epicureans of old. 
His Deity is not, and never has been, disturbed by the 
laborious business of creating and governing the world. 

" Deos didicit securum agere sevum, 
Nee si quid miri faciat Natura Deos id 
Tristes ex alto cceli demittere tecto." 

For all practical purposes we make bold to say that 
the teaching of Professor Powell is indistinguishable 
from Atheism. 



54 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

We must notice more briefly the two remaining 
essays of the volume. One, " On the National Church," 
is contributed by the Rev. II. B. Wilson, and its tone 
and character will be at once understood by most of 
those who would be likely to read these essays, if we 
remind them that Mr. Wilson is the author of an essay 
on " Schemes of Christian Comprehension," which ap- 
peared in the Oxford Essays for 1857 Mr. Wilson 
recommends the principle of " multitudinism " as that 
on which a national Church should be constructed. It 
is not easy to convey a distinct idea of what Mr. Wilson 
intends by "multitudinism," nor is that term made 
much clearer by remarking that it is opposed to " in- 
dividualism," on which Mr. Wilson conceives our pre- 
sent Church polity to be too much founded. He is 
persuaded that the conditions on which the Church of 
England at present offers the privileges of her com- 
munion are unwise and unchristian. She ought not to 
" require any act which appears to signify ' I think.' " 
" Speculative doctrines should be left to philosophical 
schools. A national Church must be concerned with 
the ethical development of its members." It is " wrong 
to consider the Church to be founded on the possession 
of an abstractedly true and supernaturally communi- 
cated speculation concerning God, rather than upon 
the manifestation of a divine life in man." Along with 
these attacks upon all dogmatic teaching, Mr. Wilson 
combines a number of remarks and arguments to show 
how little there really is of a dogmatic character to 
which our clergy are at present bound. We must ex- 
tract as a specimen some of his observations on the Sixtli 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 55 

of our Thirty-nine Articles. "We can imagine how some 
of our Evangelical brethren will stand aghast when 
they see how that, in their estimation, most prominent 
and weighty Article, evaporates into almost nothing 
before the ingenious processes applied by Mr. Wilson : — 

It has been matter of great boast within the Church of England, in 
common with other Protestant Churches, that it is founded upon the 
"Word of God," a phrase which begs many a question when applied to 
the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, a phrase which 
is never applied to them by any of the Scriptural authors, and which, 
according to Protestant principles, never could be applied to them by 
any sufficient authority from without. In that which may be con- 
sidered to be the pivot Article of the Church this expression does not 
occur, but only " Holy Scripture," " Canonical Books," " Old and 
New Testaments." It contains no declaration of the Bible being 
throughout supernaturally suggested, nor any intimation as to 
which portions of it were owing to a special divine illumination, 
nor the slightest attempt at defining inspiration, whether mediate 
or immediate, whether through, or beside, or overruling the natural 
faculties of the subject of it, — not the least hint of the relation 
between the divine and human elements in the composition of the 
Biblical books. Even if the Fathers have usually considered 
" canonical " as synonymous with " miraculously inspired," there is 
nothing to show that their sense of the word must necessarily be 
applied in our own Sixth Article. The word itself may mean either 
books ruled and determined by the Church, or regulative books ; 
and the employment of it in the Article hesitates between these two 
significations. Eor at one time " Holy Scripture " and canonical 
books are those books " of whose authority never was any doubt in 
the Church," that is, they are "determined" books; and then the 
other, or uncanonical books, are described as those which " the 
Church doth not apply to establish any doctrine," that is, they are 
not " regulative " books. And if the other principal Churches of 
the Eeformation have gone farther in definition in this respect than 
our own, that is no reason we should force the silence of our Church 
into unison with their expressed declarations, but rather that we 
should rejoice in our comparative freedom. 

The Protestant feeling among us has satisfied itself in a blind 



56 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

way with the anti-Roinan declaration, that " Holy Scripture con- 
tained all things necessary to salvation, so that whatsoever is not 
read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of 
any man, that it should be believed as an article of the faith," &c, 
and without reflecting how very much is wisely left open in that 
Article. For this declaration itself is partly negative and partly 
positive ; as to its negative part it declares that nothing — no clause 
of creed, no decision of council, no tradition or exposition — is to be 
required to be believed on peril of salvation, unless it be Scriptural ; 
but it does not lay down that every thing which is contained in 
Scripture must be believed on the same peril. Or it may be ex- 
pressed thus : — the Word of God is contained in Scripture, whence 
it does not follow that it is co-extensive with it. The Church to 
which we belong does not put that stumbling-block before the feet 
of her members ; it is their own fault if they place it there for 
themselves, authors of their own offence. Under the terms of the 
Sixth Article one may accept literally, or allegorically, or as parable, 
or poetry, or legend, the story of a serpent tempter, of an ass 
speaking with man's voice, of an arresting of the earth's motion, of 
a reversal of its motion, of waters standing in a solid heap, of 
witches, and a variety of apparitions. So, under the terms of the 
Sixth Article, every one is free in judgment as to the primeval 
institution of the Sabbath, the universality of the Deluge, the con- 
fusion of tongues, the corporeal taking up of Elijah into heaven, 
the nature of angels, the reality of demoniacal possession, the per- 
sonality of Satan, and the miraculous particulars of many events. 
So the dates and authorship of the several books received as 
canonical are not determined by any authority, nor their relative 
value and importance. — Essays and Reviews, pp. 175 — 177. 

We have no desire to be uncharitable, but we must 
say that the famous " Tract 90 " contained no special 
pleading if these observations do not. It seems hard, 
also, when the two ingredients which go to make up 
Mr. Wilson's essay — the attack upon the whole system 
of doctrinal tests on the one hand, and the clever 
casuistry employed to evade their stringency on the 
other hand — are laid side by side, to acquit Mr. Wilson 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



57 



of some inconsistency, or to see how lie can escape an 
awkward dilemma. If the exceedingly open teaching 
which Mr. Wilson exemplifies is permissible under our 
present doctrinal tests, then surely any further relaxa- 
tion is most unnecessary ; greater liberty would be the 
extreme of licence ; if on the other hand our test system 
deserves to be abolished or greatly diluted, it can only 
be on the ground that its operation is unwarrantably 
exclusive ; and it would then seem to follow that Mr. 
Wilson's mode of explaining these tests away is scarcely 
right and honest. We quit Mr. Wilson with the 
remark, which seems pretty obvious, that "multitudi- 
nism" is a basis which it would prove impossible for a 
national Church long to retain. If once tried, it would 
soon become apparent that the jarring opinions mechani- 
cally confined in one society could not comfortably live 
therein side by side; they would presently come to 
internecine strife ; one or other would prevail ; its 
antagonists would be expelled ; and the society, if it 
did not utterly perish in these intestine commotions, 
would be reorganized on a narrow, polemical, and in- 
tentionally exclusive basis. Like democracy in politics, 
" multitudinism " in religion would prove near akin to 
despotism. 

Of all the essays bound up in this free-spoken volume, 
there is none more unpleasing than that of Dr. Rowland 
Williams on "Bunsen's Biblical Researches." Dr. 
Williams is apt to assume a tone of self-complacent 
arrogance, which as ill accords with the solemn subjects 
under consideration, as it does with good taste itself. 
He held, we believe, once upon a time, very decided 



58 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

Church views. If so, he is another unhappy example 
of the proverb, " Corruptio optimi pessimal His own 
earlier faith might at least have held him from dis- 
respectful treatment of the tenets on which he himself 
once rested his own hopes of salvation, and on which 
his brethren for the most part still rest theirs. He 
ought to have held sacred, as a matter of feeling, if not 
of faith, much of what he dismisses with contempt, not 
without insinuation of corrupt motives against his 
fellows in the ministry. In justification of these strong 
censures, we will quote a few lines from the last of two 
very indifferent stanzas of verses in which, at the end 
of his paper, Dr. "Williams exhales his enthusiastic 
admiration for Bunsen : — 

But ah not dead my soul to giant reach, 

That envious Eld's vast interval defied ; 
And when those fables strange our hirelings teach, 

I saw by genuine learning cast aside, 
Even like Linnaeus kneeling on the sod, 
For faith from falsehood severed, thank I God. 

The " fables strange " which Dr. "Williams refers to 
are such as we have been wont to regard as amongst 
the most sacred elements of our practical and devotional 
theology, amongst the weightiest evidences of our faith, 
and the most concerning truths of our creed. A few 
specimens may be culled up and down the essay at 
random. We are to hold, it seems — in deference to 
the Chevalier Bunsen and Dr. "Williams his prophet — 
that the verse, " No man hath ascended up to heaven 
but He that came down from heaven " (St. John iii. 13), 
is " intelligible as a free comment near the end of the 
first century, but has no meaning in our Lord's mouth 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 59 

at a time when the Ascension had not been heard of;" 
that the Apocalypse is "a series of poetical visions 
which represent the outpouring of the vials of wrath 
upon the city where the Lord was slain;" that the 
Second Epistle of St. Peter is undoubtedly spurious ; 
that the Pentateuch consists of gradual accretions upon 
an older and much simpler basis, and is only Mosaic as 
embodying the fully developed system of Moses ; that 
the famous Shiloh (Genesis xlix. 10) is to be taken in 
its local sense as the sanctuary where the young Samuel 
was trained ; that the prophecies receive their elucida- 
tion in contemporary history, and the directly predic- 
tive element in them is being progressively lowered in 
value; that we must not say that David foretold the 
exile, because it is mentioned in the Psalms ; that Psalm 
xxxiv. (" A bone of the righteous shall not be broken") 
is no prophecy of the Crucifixion, though St. John 
(xix. 36) asserts the direct contrary ; that Psalm xxii. 
(" They pierced My hands and My feet ") is altogether 
misunderstood as applied to the same event ; that " the 
Man of Sorrows" is the "chosen people in opposition to 
heathen oppressors," or if any individual at all is in- 
tended in Isaiah liii. (which is to be regarded as a 
history), it is no other than the prophet Jeremiah; 
that Christ is to be recognized asa " moral Saviour of 
mankind," justification "a verdict of forgiveness upon 
our repentance," resurrection a "spiritual quickening;" 
that "the hateful fires of the Yale of Hinnom may 
serve as images of distracted remorse ;" that heaven is 
" not a place so much as fulfilment of the love of God." 
Such are a few of the doctrinal suggestions which Dr. 



60 CRITICAL ESSAY8. 

Williams borrows more or less from Bunsen, and re- 
commends to the thoughtful Christian amongst us. 

These are the leading ideas and principles, or fair 
specimens of them at all events, which the five writers 
on whose contributions to this volume we have ven- 
tured specially to remark have thought it right to place 
before their fellow- Christians and fellow- Churchmen 
for their information and guidance — for the rectification 
of their misunderstandings and the improvement of 
their lives. That they are ideas and principles fraught 
with dangerous error, and even utterly subversive of re- 
vealed religion, few of our readers will doubt. Painful 
reflections suggest themselves here and there as to how 
far the writers themselves still retain any real hold 
upon those truths which are the very characteristics of 
that religion. While in such men intentional unfair- 
ness is not to be thought of, it is impossible sometimes 
to* escape the conviction that they are to the full as 
credulous and uncandid in their doubts and difficulties 
as some Christian apologists unquestionably are in 
their replies. It looks sometimes as if it were almost 
enough for them if any scientific speculation seems to 
contradict Scripture : straightway it assumes for them 
a probability which its intrinsic worth by no means 
warrants, and which they would assuredly not have dis- 
cerned in it had it made the other way We observe, 
for instance, two or three of them unhesitatingly em- 
bracing Mr. Darwin's theory of the development of 
species, though it is well known that that theory, so 
far from being as yet substantiated by proper scientific 
evidence, is held to be unsound by the greatest living 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



61 



authority on such a point — Professor Owen. However 
these things may be, it is not hard to discover the one 
deficiency in their religious system which has led these 
gentlemen into such unhappy errors. They utterly 
ignore, we fear they deliberately despise, those func- 
tions of the Church as subsidiary to Holy Writ, which 
are involved when we speak of her as a witness and a 
keeper. The Church is, in reference to men, the pillar 
and ground of the truth. It is she who testifies both 
as to the authority of Scripture, what Scripture is, and 
what is the doctrine of Scripture on all cardinal points. 
It is her business to preserve this doctrine from addi- 
tions, adulterations, and abatements. If her witness is 
set aside as valueless, and even as prejudicing our views 
of truth, nothing whatever remains to check the idio- 
syncrasies of the individual. He may, as the writers 
before us evidence with melancholy force, find, by one 
device or another, any thing he pleases in Scripture — 
or, if he prefers it, nothing definite whatever. We do 
not greatly fear that opinions such as those advocated 
in this volume will obtain currency amongst our laity — 
nor even prevail to any alarming extent amongst our 
clergy. What positive teaching there is in it is too 
vague and abstract to be palatable or even intelligible 
to the common sense of most Englishmen. Its destruc- 
tive and negative criticism may, however, do some 
harm. It is far easier, in such matters, to destroy than 
to build up. Its chief influence will be with minds 
naturally of a speculative and sceptical turn ; and, with 
them, it will tend to the confirmation of doubts, and the 
shaking of any faith in the religion of their childhood 



62 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

which they may still have retained. And thus the 
Church may lose — we trust and hope only for a time — 
the allegiance, in neart at least, if not in outward pro- 
fession, of some few, yet those few not the least able, 
from amongst those whose best and freshest energies 
ought to have been dedicated to her. 



ESSAY III. 



The Life of Edward Irving. By Mrs. Oliphant. Two Vols. 

Edward Irving has been fortunate in his biographer, 
if not in his life itself. It would scarce have been 
possible to commit the task of depicting his career in 
the vivid colours and brilliant effects to which it seems 
to aspire to hands more apt and skilful for this parti- 
cular undertaking than those of Mrs. Oliphant. She 
has for Irving the sympathy and mutual rapport which 
natives of the same country are wont to have; and 
Scotch people at least as much as any. She was, like 
him, brought up in that Presbyterian establishment 
which looks severe and forbidding enough to those who 
view it from the outside, but which has, nevertheless, 
ofttimes enlisted the devoted allegiance of the most 
imaginative. Lastly, Mrs. Oliphant herself has some- 
thing of the orator in her, and the trait comes 
out much more strongly in this work than in her 
novels. Whilst we cannot but see that a good deal of 
the dignity and significance of the facts she presents to 
us is less native to them than derived from her own 
glowing imagination, yet the very tendency she has 
towards the superlative admirably qualifies her to ap- 



64 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

preciate and to reproduce in congenial and often very 
Carlylean style the excellent but enthusiastic and cre- 
dulous person about whom she writes. It is, indeed, 
an odd kind of disenchantment which is effected by 
heating the thoughts well through perusing a few 
of Mrs. Oliphant's chapters, and then turning to the 
record of the same transactions in one of the ordinary 
biographical compilations. To the lady the man she 
has to deal with was quite a hero. His colossal pro- 
portions, his " dark apostolic head of hair " — a sort of 
unearthliness about him, "his aspect, his height, and 
presence," all with a female biographer have the fullest 
justice done them. These physical advantages were 
well calculated to set off the solemn and impassioned 
pomp of utterance which characterized Irving's elo- 
quence. " Power and richness, gleams of exquisite 
beauty, but withal a mysterious and extreme allegoriza- 
tion," is the criticism of Chalmers on the great preacher 
in the zenith of his fame. Less friendly critics have 
detected loose and inconsistent reasoning, inflated and 
redundant phraseology, a vein of metaphor exuberant 
indeed, but extravagant and fantastic, a dialect neither 
Scotch nor English, neither ancient nor modern, often 
sublime and sometimes ridiculous, in those same ora- 
tions which Mrs. Oliphant seems unable to rate suffi- 
ciently highly. Irving unquestionably had, in a high 
degree, the poetical gift of discerning in commonplace 
things their grand and mysterious bearings; every 
thing he approached brightened under the spell of his 
fervent thoughts and words into the romantic and the 
sublime. What wonder that such a man, when occu- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 65 

pied with things really great — when giving free rein 
to a faith so ardent as almost to create for itself the 
objects after which it reached out — overbalanced him- 
self at last, and fell, from the very vehemence and 
excess of his spiritual gifts, into crazy fanaticism and 
spiritual ruin? "One of the noblest natures," says 
Carlyle on "the Death of Edward Irving" [Critical 
and Miscellaneous Essays, vol. v. Essay i.), "a man of 
antique heroic nature, in questionable modern garni- 
ture, which he could not wear ! " "It was his own 
nobleness that forwarded his ruin : the excess of his 
sociability and sympathy, of his value for the suffrages 
and sympathies of men." Anyhow, in spite of his 
delusions and his trait of vanity and self- opinion, 
Irving was a man without a mean and selfish thought 
in him, and one, too, of vast laboriousness, genuineness, 
and friendliness to all mankind. 

Mrs. Oliphant's work has been now for some time 
before the public, and has well approved itself. Its 
literary and ethical characteristics lie plain to view on 
its surface. It presents with faithfulness, though in 
somewhat strongly- tinted hues, the personal history of 
a most noble-minded and unworldly man striving in a 
very commonplace sphere to transmute the hard pro- 
saic facts of every-day life into something answering 
to his own expectations, and finally succumbing in the 
attempt. Such a career is always melancholy, though 
it is not very uncommon. Fancy and fact often wage 
war, and ever with the same result. But other and 
deeper issues arise out of Irving's words and deeds, on 
which careful reflection must precede judgment. He 



66 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

was the founder of a religious sect ;— or, if his followers 
demur to such statement of what we mean, the inaugu- 
rator, at least, of a movement within the pale of Chris- 
tendom which is giving to this day abundant evidence 
of vitality and even progress. To review and criticize 
the motives and events out of which such a movement 
originated, to estimate its true character and its rela- 
tions to the Church, form our business; and it is a 
business not without its elements of difficulty and com- 
plexity. 

Irving's life, indeed, does not, regarded from the 
outside, present any very striking features. Born in 
1792, his earlier days gave no remarkable promise, and 
were solely distinguished by remarkable robustness of 
physical constitution. He had extraordinary bodily 
activity and strength, and the usual relish for exer- 
cising them. He was sent by thrifty parents from the 
parish school of Annan to the University of Edin- 
burgh : — 

At thirteen, Irving began his studies at the Edinburgh Univer- 
sity : such was, and is still, to a great extent, the custom of Scotch 
Universities — a habit which, like every other educational habit in 
Scotland, promotes the diffusion of a little learning, and all the 
practical uses of knowledge, but makes the profounder depths of 
scholarship almost impossible. It was nearly universal in those 
days, and no doubt partly originated in the very long course of 
study demanded by the Church (always so influential in Scotland, 
and acting upon the habits even of those who are not devoted to 
her service) from applicants for the ministry. This lengthened 
process of education cannot be better described than in the words 
used by Irving himself at a much later period of his life, and used 
with natural pride, as setting forth what his beloved Church re- 
quired of her neophytes. " In respect to the ministers," he says, 
" this is required of them — that they should have studied for four 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 67 

years in a University all the branches of a classical and philosophical 
education : and either taken the rank in literature of a Master of 
Arts, or come out from the University with certificates of their pro- 
ficiency in the classics, in mathematics, in logic, and in natural and 
moral philosophy. They are then, and not till then, permitted to 
enter upon the study of theology, of which the professors are 
ordained ministers of the Church, chosen to their office. Under 
separate professors they study theology, Hebrew, and ecclesiastical 
history, for four years, attending from four to six months in each 
year. Thus eight years are consumed in study." This is, perhaps, 
the only excuse which can be made for sending boys, still little 
more than children, into what ought to be the higher labours of a 
University. Even beginning at such an age, the full course of 
study exacted from a youth in training for the Church could not be 
completed till he had reached his twenty-first year, when all the re- 
peated " trials " of the Presbytery had still to follow before he could 
enter upon his vocation ; an apparent and comprehensible reason, if 
not excuse, for a custom which, according to the bitter complaints of 
its victims, turns the University into a kind of superior grammar- 
school.— Vol. i. pp. 26, 27. 

During the latter portion of this eight years he com- 
bined his necessary attendance on Divinity Lectures 
with the teaching of a newly-established school at 
Haddington; and subsequently kept school also at 
Kirkcaldy, where he met with and married, after an 
engagement of eight years, the daughter of the then 
incumbent, Dr. Martin. Whilst at Kirkcaldy he passed 
the necessary exercises, and was licensed as a "pro- 
bationer " — i. e., was authorized to preach when asked to 
do so, but had no regular pastoral charge. For some 
years he waited for the " invitation " which should afford 
him a sphere for the systematic exercise of his minis- 
terial functions, and waited in vain. Another and as it 
should seem an opposition school was established at 
Kirkcaldy, by no less a person than Thomas Carlyle ; 

f 2 



08 CRITICAL KSSAYS. 

and Irving threw up an employment which had never 
been much to his taste, and resumed his divinity studies 
in Edinburgh. Tie was on the verge of expatriating 
himself for missionary work, in despair of a "call " in 
his native land, when a chance invitation to preach in 
one of the Edinburgh churches gave him Chalmers for 
a hearer. Chalmers, just then in the full swing of his 
remarkable work at St. John's, Glasgow, happened at 
the time to be in want of an assistant ; was struck by 
Irving' s sermon ; and eventually engaged his help. At 
Glasgow, as elsewhere, there seems to have hung round 
Irving no foreshadow of greatness to come. " Ower 
muckle gran'nar " was the verdict, as it had been at Kirk- 
caldy ; Irving was not comprehended by his congregation, 
and carried away with him little, if any thing, more than 
the personal attachment he well deserved by his devoted 
labours from house to house amongst the poor. At 
this time there was abroad amongst the weavers of 
Glasgow " that sharp touch of starvation which makes 
men desperate:" there was " want, most pertinacious and 
maddest of all revolutionaries," " wolfish and seditious 
plotting, pikes and risings." St. John's was one of the 
worst districts in the city, both for poverty and dis- 
affection, yet its pauperism was kept down by Chalmers 
out of the weekly and voluntary offerings of his con- 
gregation, and amongst its foulest haunts and most 
forlorn recesses Irving moved for a time a singular vet 
a welcome figure : — 

When he entered those sombre apartments in the Gallow^-ate, it 
was with the salutation, " Peace be to this house," with which be 
inisjht have entered a Persian palace or desert tent. " It was very 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 69 

peculiar; a thing that nobody else did," says a simple-minded 
member of Dr. Chalmers 1 agency, " it was impossible not to remark 
it, out of the way as it was ; but there was not one of the agency 
could make an objection to it. It took the people's attention won- 
derfully." A certain solemn atmosphere entered with that lofty 
figure, speaking in matchless harmony of voice, its " Peace be to 
this house." To be prayed for, sometimes edifyingly, sometimes 
tediously, was not uncommon to the Glasgow poor; but to be 
blessed was a novelty to them. Perhaps, if the idea had been pur- 
sued into the depths of their minds, these Presbyterians, all retaining 
something of ecclesiastical knowledge, however little religion they 
might have, would have been disposed to deny the right of any man 
to assume that priestly power of blessing. Irving, however, did 
not enter into any discussion of the subject. It was his habitual 
practice ; and the agency, puzzled and a little awed, " could not 
make an objection to it." He did still more than this. He laid 
his hands upon the heads of the children, and pronounced with 
imposing solemnity, the ancient benediction, " The Lord bless thee 
and keep thee," over each of them — a practice startling to Scotch 
ears, but acquiesced in involuntarily as natural to the man who, all 
solitary and individual in picturesque homely grandeur, went to and 
fro among them. — Vol. i. pp. Ill, 112. 

We must pass on to the second epoch of his more 
public life. Irving felt himself in the shade at Glasgow. 
He was merely Dr. Chalmers' "helper." "The Glas- 
gow people had not had their eyes directed to him ; 
they saw him always in the shade, carrying out another 
man's ideas, and dominated by another man's superior 
influence." There are men of high attainments and 
just expectations who have too often to wear out a 
round score of years in an analogous position in the 
Church of England ; but for Irving such a lower room 
was "unnatural." Once more his mind was turned 
towards missionary work, which had many allurements 
for his romantic temperament ; but in 1821 arrived the 



70 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

long-desired " call " in the shape of an invitation from 
the "Caledonian, Church," Hatton Garden. Things 
were indeed at the lowest ebb with this little congrega- 
tion, which " successive vacancies and discouragements 
had reduced it to the lowest point at which it could 
venture to call itself a congregation," and it felt itself 
unable to enter into the usual bond by which the 
minister's stipend is " fixed at a certain rate which the 
office-bearers pledge themselves to maintain." Irving's 
anxiety to obtain the independent sphere for which he 
panted overcame this, and other preliminary difficulties, 
and he entered on his charge " on the second Sabbath 
of July, 1822," "at the highest pitch of hope and 
anticipation." Ere long an " exceeding commotion and 
interest " began to awaken in the sleepy district around 
the Caledonian Church. In the very next November 
Irving describes his little chapel as filled to overflowing. 
Hut a speech of Canning's in the House of Commons 
is said to have been the immediate cause of Irving's 
becoming " fashionable :"— 

Sir James Mackintosh had been by some unexpected circumstance 
led to hear the new preacher, and heard Irving in his prayer 
describe an unknown family of orphans belonging to the obscure 
congregation, as now " thrown upon the fatherhood of God." The 
words seized upon the mind of the philosopher, and he repeated 
them to Canning, who "started," as Mackintosh relates, and ex- 
pressing great admiration, made an instant engagement to accom- 
pany his friend to the Scotch church on the following Sunday. 
Shortly after, a discussion took place in the House of Commons, in 
which the revenues of the Church were referred to, and the necessary 
mercantile relation between high talent and good pay insisted upon. 
No doubt it suited the statesman's purpose to instance, on the other 
side of the question, the little Caledonian chapel and its new 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 71 

preacher. Canning told the house, that so far from universal was 
this rule, that he. himself had lately heard a Scotch minister, 
trained in one of the most poorly endowed of Churches, and esta- 
blished in one of her outlying dependencies, possessed of no endow- 
ment at all, preach the most eloquent sermon that he had ever listened 
to. The curiosity awakened by this speech is said to have been the 
first beginning of that invasion of " society " which startled Hatton 
Garden out of itself. — Vol. i. pp. 158, 159. 

For some four years Irving continued one of the 
leading lions of the great city. The West-end, 1500 
strong at least, invaded the secluded and dingy little 
chapel. His life during this the culminating period 
of his course is laid before us with much affectionate 
elaboration of detail by Mrs. Oliphant, and in truth 
contains very much to enlist our sympathy and respect. 
He was not, as some great preachers, a man given up 
entirely to "getting up" for his weekly appearances in 
the pulpit. On the contrary, he was unwearied in per- 
sonal labours amongst the members of his congregation 
and the poor, was always accessible to his friends and 
countrymen who needed countenance or assistance, and 
was a centre of hospitality and beneficences not to be 
counted. There is nothing in the spectacle of Irving' s 
success to mar the satisfaction with which the moral 
sense regards the rise of " the right man to the right 
place" by his own merits and fortune. Irving, as soon 
as his success in London was ascertained, married ; and 
the Diary written by him for the perusal of his wife, 
during the first considerable period when the chances of 
life 'kept them apart, is one of the most pleasing and 
touching portions of these memoirs. There are few 
men indeed who could bear to look so stedfastly and 



72 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

sincerely into their inner selves as Irving has done in 
this Diary, and record the result so unshrinkingly. Still 
fewer are those whose self-revelation could be exposed 
to public gaze, not only with decorum, but even with 
much of ennobling and purifying influence. This is 
the first and only journal of the kind that Irving kept. 
It comes before us as a series of letters written whilst he 
was in London to his wife, who was after the loss of her 
firstborn " in the sad affectionate shelter of her father's 
house," — "weak and sorrowful, in the faintest hour of 
a woman's life." " Few men or heroes," exclaims the 
enthusiastic biographer, in concluding her chapter of 
extracts, " have been laid in their grave with such a 
memorial as envelopes the baby name of little Edward ; 
and I think few wives will read this record without 
envying Isabella Irving that hour of her anguish and 
consolation." Though this chapter is certainly the 
cream of the volumes in point of personal interest, the 
more public issues of Irving's life must absorb our 
attention, and forbid our attempting extracts from it. 

Irving's fame as a preacher demanded larger scope 
than the narrow limits of the chapel in Hatton Garden, 
and the congregation removed early in 1827 to a capa- 
cious edifice built purposely for it in Regent Square. 
Here fashion deserted him, and " went her idle way," 
as Carlyle says, "to gaze on Egyptian crocodiles, Iroquois 
hunters, or what else there might be." Access to the 
great preacher was no longer difficult, and therefore 
was no longer competed for. The new church con- 
tinued to be well filled, but was never inconveniently 
crowded, and to the disappointment thus produced 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



73 



some — his friend Carlyle amongst them — have ascribed 
the darker shadows and perplexing singularities of his 
later life. His biographer defends him from this im- 
putation with considerable warmth, and, we are inclined 
to think, with success. That he had no little love of 
admiration seems to us evident ; nor, in the jumble of 
inconsistencies which make up every man's personality, 
is this at all incompatible with that deep and sincere 
humility which marks his private records. But there 
is no evidence that Irving was intoxicated by becoming 
so marvellously yet transiently " the rage." His private 
life continued unaltered in its unobtrusive laborious- 
ness : " the quaint and simple economics of his house- 
hold" remained as he had regulated them when he 
came to London an obscure and almost penniless man : 
he refused, even on the repeated remonstrances of his 
elders, to conciliate his fashionable audience by cur- 
tailing so much as a minute the inordinate length of 
his sermons. The influences which led Irving astray 
were of a subtler and less selfish character than the 
disenchantment of which we are speaking. At any rate, 
after the removal to Regent Square, Irving' s pathway 
grew rapidly dark, and sloped downwards. His ortho- 
doxy began now to be questioned. " An idle clergyman 
called Cole — of whom nobody seems to know any thing 
but that he suddenly appeared out of darkness at this 
moment to do his ignoble office" — heard of what ap- 
peared to him " a new doctrine." The great preacher 
"declared the human nature of our Saviour to be 
identical with all human nature;" or, as Mr. Cole 
represented it— Mrs. Oliphant says misrepresented it— 



74 CRITICAL KSSAYS. 

taught "the sinfulness of Christ's human nature." 
Mr. Cole sounded an alarm in a publish rd letter to 
Irving. There was an outcry ; a stir in divers quar- 
ters ; and Irving devoted two or three discourses in a 
collection of his sermons then in the press to a specific 
exposition and vindication of his views on the subject. 
Into the details of the controversy that arose we need 
not enter. Irving's statement of the point of it is 
clear enough. "The point at issue is simply this, 
whether Christ's flesh had the grace of sinlessness and 
incorruption from its proper nature or from the in- 
dwelling of the Holy Ghost ; I say the latter." Irving 
evidently never dreamed of his own teaching on the 
subject being divergent from that of Catholic Chris- 
tendom ; and when his doctrine was challenged, in- 
sisted on it as the only mode in which he could hold to 
that " wonderful reality of union, which made his Lord 
npt only his Saviour, but his brother and kinsman, the 
true everlasting Head of the nature He had assumed." 
When stated, as Irving in his cooler and more judicial 
mood states it, and coupled with the cautions and the 
riders he introduces, it seems certainly scarce fair to 
tax him with holding " the sinfulness or peccability of 
Christ's human nature." For though he taught that 
Christ took " manhood fallen," it was only in order 
" to prove the grace and might of Godhead in redeeming 
it." Christ's flesh he deemed "in its proper nature 
mortal and corruptible," but deriving " immortality and 
incorruption from the indwelling of the Holy Ghost: 
Christ's existence was not in itself secure and unassail- 
able, but held like a fortress in immaculate purity by 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 75 

the Grodhead within." Those were not days when men 
were versed in dogmatic theology — Irving himself had 
never received the scholastic training which it needs to 
grapple safely with such questions in controversy. Had 
he been thus qualified, he would hardly have given oc- 
casion to the controversy at all. For in truth the per- 
fection of Christ's human sympathy noways involves 
His having assumed humanity under the conditions of 
the fall. Sympathy depends on fellowship in nature, 
not on community in individual attributes and acci- 
dents. Now, sin is no integral part of human nature 
at all, but is merely an accident superinduced on it. 
As a matter of experience it is the holiest and purest of 
mankind who manifest the sweetest and the deepest 
sympathies for their erring and defiled brethren, and 
usually they do so in proportion to their holiness. 
Irving's teaching on the whole of this subject — in 
which he is followed, we believe, by those who in 
common parlance bear his name — is moreover theo- 
logically unsound and pregnant with fatal consequences. 
We by no means charge such consequences on him; 
and should be sorry either to brand him with the name 
of heretic, or to justify in all respects the treatment he 
met with from his then co-religionists. Yet it is plain, 
that to insist on our Lord having taken not manhood 
only, but fallen manhood, involves Irving in a dilemma, 
either alternative of which is deadly error. For if our 
Lord so took humanity as Irving taught, then either 
He was tainted with original guilt — a supposition ut- 
terly subversive of the faith as regards the Incarnation 
and the Atonement — or else the concupiscence and lust 



76 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

which belong to fallen humanity, and which in Him 
were kept at bay, on Irving's theory, by the immanent 
might of the Bfessed Spirit, have not " the nature of 
sin," a position verging hard on Pelagianism. Mrs. 
Oliphant not unnaturally declines to thread the intrica- 
cies and the nice turnings of a question like this. 
She is content to maintain strenuously the uprightness 
of her hero, and his sincere belief that his faith was 
both the original and the true one. She warmly de- 
nounces the arts which were used to entrap him, and 
the distortions of his words and sentiments which were 
resorted to to procure his condemnation. Yet the very 
tract in which he strove to vindicate his doctrine affords 
proof positive that his teaching was not a little unsound 
and dangerous. It is entitled The Orthodox and Catholic 
Doctrine of our Lord's Human Nature ; and contains, as 
Mrs. Oliphant will not deny, "rash and unjustifiable 
expressions." We can well believe it, though we have 
not the tract at hand to refer to, for we find Irving 
quoted as saying in a sermon that our Lord's Body was 
"devil possessed;" and in a paper in The Morning 
Watch, that " every variety of human wickedness which 
hath been realized or is possible, to be realized was 
inherent in His humanity" — (Marsden's Christian 
Churches and Sects, vol. ii. p. 58.) 

Whilst Irving was thus put on his defence as regards 
his orthodoxy, a phenomenon rose above the horizon of 
the religious world which changed the destinies in the 
Church of himself and those who held with him. 
Strange tidings reached him from the parish of an 
intimate friend in Scotland that the gift of tongues had 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 77 

fallen on a young woman — Mary Campbell — soon fol- 
lowed up by gifts of healing exhibiting themselves in 
another neighbouring household. To Irving's ears 
these wonders came with all the recommendation and 
verisimilitude that news long expected carries with it. 
Some years previously he had taken up with character- 
istic warmth and glow of imagination the captivating 
yet bewildering subject of unfulfilled prophecy ; had 
revelled both in meditation and discourse in interpreta- 
tions of the Books of Daniel and of the Revelation ; and 
had persuaded himself and his circle of admirers that the 
Second Advent of Christ and the Millennium were close 
at hand. He gathered from Scripture that this august 
epoch was to be ushered in by a new epiphany of the 
miraculous power of Grod. Amidst such exciting anti- 
cipations, "the future," as Mrs. Oliphant says, "palpi- 
tated before the earnest leader and his anxious fol- 
lowers." These tendencies received stimulus and 
direction from Irving's ever-growing intimacy with 
Henry Drummond, who invited from time to time a 
band of students of Prophecy to his seat, Albury, where 
for some days they shut themselves up to pray, meditate, 
and discuss the prospects of the Church of the Future 
as revealed to the faithful in Scripture. The first 
gathering of the kind, seems to us, who know the sub- 
sequent history of the individuals who composed it, not 
a little singular. It consisted of some twenty men, 
under the " moderation " of the Rev. Hugh M'JNeile, 
then incumbent of the parish. It contained, besides 
Irving and Drummond, Joseph Wolff and Mr. Dods- 
worth ! Before the appearance of the " gifts" in 1831, 



78 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

the divergences which carried these men in so many- 
different directions had set in, but from amongst them 
Irving and Drunfmond were pursuing side by side the 
path which led them to the foundation of a new sect. 
They and their friends supported a well-appointed 
Quarterly, The Morning Watch, which, besides taking 
up the vindication of Irving's doctrine respecting our 
Lord's Humanity, discussed Prophecy in its various 
bearings, and the conditions, uses, &c, of miracles. 
Soon these enthusiasts persuaded themselves that mi- 
racles must be regarded not so much as attestations of 
the Gospel as parts of it. They conceived that the 
power of working signs and wonders, if not necessarily 
inherent in a saving faith, is at least an attribute of it 
in its higher and sublimer walks, and within the reach 
of all who receive not the grace of God in vain. On 
such a coterie the intelligence from Scotland fell like 
the spark on the ready-laid train of gunpowder. Im- 
mediately the church in Regent Square was vehemently 
agitated ; they had been holding special meetings to 
intercede for the General Assembly, which had then at 
its bar in Edinburgh some of Irving's friends and 
partners in theological opinion, under charge of heresy : 
they now continued these meetings in the early morning, 
— the origin of the early Matins of the "Catholic 
Apostolic Church," — and directed their supplications to 
interests more immediately their own. "It was for the 
outpouring of the Spirit that they now resolved to ask ; 
for the bestowal of those miraculous gifts of which 
news came without ceasing from Scotland, which 
were daily hoped for with gradually increasing in- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



79 



tensity amongst themselves, and which, if once re- 
vealed, they did not doubt would be to the establishing 
of a mighty influence in the great city which surged 
and groaned around them, a perpetual battle-ground of 
human passion." Such enthusiastic petitioners were 
not likely to take long denial. "Among those who 
prayed every morning for the visible manifestation of 
God and His wonderful works amongst themselves, 
there was one at least so intent upon the petition he 
urged, and so sure that what he asked was in con- 
formity to the will of God, that his anxious gaze had 
almost power to create upon the horizon the light he 
looked for." In July, 1831, Irving was accordingly 
enabled to announce, " Two of my flock have received 
the gift of tongues and prophecy." He was much too 
prepossessed to be an impartial trier of spirits. His soul 
was naturally akin to the wondrous, and was far indeed 
from being armed with that ever- watchful distrust of 
every thing pretending to be above nature which charac- 
terizes the intellect of this generation. A miracle to 
Irving was always rather the fulfilment of an antecedent 
probability than an event against which there necessarily 
lay the heaviest presumptions. It was to him a merciful 
unveiling of that Divine energy on which his thoughts 
ever rested as the true cause of all things to God's 
people and God's Church. Now, when it was his con- 
fident and cherished hope to see with his own eyes his 
Saviour on the Millennial Throne, there was " a certain 
magnificent probability in the flood of Divine utterance 
and action for which he prayed and waited." The 
agreement of more than two or three in that petition 



80 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

had likewise to his realizing faith made God Himself 
responsible for the fulfilment of His own promise to 
united prayer. *Yet Irving forced himself to impose on 
those who thus brought him a visible answer to his 
daring yet confident requests a probation which he 
considered a severe one ; and " proceeded with a care 
and caution scarcely to be expected of him." After 
some weeks' suspense, however, Irving was satisfied, 
proclaimed his conviction from the pulpit, and gave 
permission for the exercise of those gifts in the con- 
gregation, which he had convinced himself were of 
God, and which therefore he dared no longer restrain. 
There are those still living who will remember some- 
thing of the scenes which ensued in the chapel in 
Regent Square, and the excitement, the stir, the ridi- 
cule, and even the tumults, which these "manifesta- 
tions," growing week by week in frequency and energy, 
caused. The trustees of the building were obliged at 
last, and very reluctantly, to interfere. They appealed 
in due course to " the Presbytery of London," and this 
body eventually closed the chapel against Irving on the 
ground that he had, contrary to the terms of the trust- 
deed, and to ecclesiastical order, permitted unauthorized 
persons to speak in the congregation. Mrs. OHphant, 
as usual, is angry at the way in which Irving was dealt 
with. She deems that the Presbyters ought not to 
have closed the doors of his chapel against him without 
satisfying themselves that the manifestations objected 
to by the trustees were not in fact of the supernatural 
character which they claimed to be. Into no such 
inquiry did these wary Scotchmen venture. They 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 81 

unanimously "decerned" that the proceedings autho- 
rized by Irving were in contravention of the discipline of 
their Church, and of the provisions of the trust-deed 
under which the building was held, and removed Irving 
from the ministry he occupied. No one who looks at the 
matter impartially can reasonably blame either their 
conclusion or their mode of reaching it. It is scarcely 
possible to conceive any thing more alien from the 
decorous and cold usages of Scotch national religionism 
than the scenes which had been taking place for weeks 
in Irving' s congregation, and which the trustees had 
tried in vain by private remonstrances to check. 

Thus Irving, and with him the bulk of his congrega- 
tion, were expelled from the chapel built for their use, 
and with it they practically forsook also the religious 
denomination to which it belonged. Eventually, after 
a season of open-air preachings, and a temporary occu- 
pation of a large room in Gray's-inn-road, formerly 
used as a lecture-room by Robert Owen (so strange are 
the vicissitudes of rooms as of other human belongings !), 
the great preacher and his adherents found a more 
permanent asylum in premises in Newman- street. The 
" utterances " of course became a more and more pro- 
minent feature in the nascent community ; which by 
rapid degrees expanded into a theocratical institution, 
professing to derive all its discipline and regulations 
direct from God. Such an immediate transmission of 
the Divine Will naturally superseded the ordinary 
ecclesiastical machinery which Irving and his friends 
had hitherto regarded as the appointment of the 
Founder of the Church. It was declared "in the 

G 



82 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

power " that the Church no longer retained the privi- 
lege of ordaining, and that thenceforward all spiritual 
offices must be Ulled by the gifted, or those called 
through the gifted by the Spirit of God. Irving was 
about this time deposed from his functions in the Kirk 
by the Presbytery of his native place, which had ac- 
cording to Presbyterian rule ordained him ; and when 
he returned in grief and indignation to London, to the 
little society which he himself had originated and 
bound together, he was met by an interdict from one 
of his own prophets, " forbidding him to exercise any 
priestly function, to administer sacraments, or to as- 
sume any thing out of the province of a deacon, the 
lowest office in the newly-formed Church." For Irving 
himself never laid claim to any of those supernatural 
powers which he believed to be in such vigorous activity 
about him ; and showed thereby his sincerity, as well 
as % his humility and good sense. And so " the prophets 
spoke, and the elders ruled, but in the midst Irving sat 
silent, listening wistfully, if perhaps the voice from 
heaven might come to restore him to that office which 
was the vocation of his life." Never did any the 
faintest irradiation reach Irving of that mystic light 
which he had persuaded himself was vouchsafed so 
abundantly to others, and which he had come to regard 
as the most precious token of acceptance with God. Yet 
at last, while he sat in the lowest place, and waited 
with humbleness, the utterance once more called the 
forlorn but dauntless warrior to take up his arms, 
and he received ordination " at the apostolic hands of 
Mr. Cardale" as "angel or chief pastor of the flock 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



83 



assembled in Newman-street." Whether these multi- 
plied trials and disappointments broke his heart, or 
whether his devoted labours and his manifold domestic 
afflictions exhausted his constitution, it was not long 
after his re-ordination before "his waning strength and 
wasted look gave sign that his life was ebbing from 
him. Amongst the delusions which he cherished to 
the very last was one that God would assuredly restore 
him to health. He held that the power of disease 
arises from sin, and that it is consequently the stand- 
ing of God's redeemed people to bid defiance to its 
ravages : — 

Dr. Eainy, who attended him, informed me of various particulars 
in these last days : but indeed, so touched with tears, after thirty 
years' interval, was even the physician's voice, and so vivid the pre- 
sentment of that noble, wasted figure, stretched in utter weakness, 
but utter faith, waiting for the moment when God, out of visible 
dying, should bring life and strength, that I cannot venture to 
record with any distinctness those heart-breaking details. By 
times, when on the very verge of the grave, a caprice of sudden 
strength seized the patient ; he sighed for " God's air " and the 
outdoor freshness which he thought would restore him. He assured 
the compassionate spectator, whose skilled eyes saw the golden 
chords of life melting asunder, how well he knew that he was to all 
appearance dying, yet how certainly he was convinced that God yet 
meant to raise him : and again, and yet again, commended " the 
work of the Holy Ghost " to all faith and reverence ; adding, with 
pathetic humility, that of these gifts he himself had never been 
" found worthy." Once in this wonderful monologue he was 

heard murmuring to himself sonorous syllables of some unknown 
tongue. Listening to those mysterious sounds, Dr. Martin found 
them to be the Hebrew measures of the 23rd Psalm, " The Lord is 
my Shepherd," into the latter verses of which the dying voice 
swelled as the watcher took up and echoed the wonderful strain, 
" Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will 
fear no evil." As the current of life grew feebler and feebler, a last 

G 2 



84 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

debate seemed to rise in that soul which was now hidden with God. 
They heard him murmuring to himself in inarticulate argument, 
confusedly struggling in his weakness to account for this visible 
death which at last his human faculties could no longer refuse to 
believe in — perhaps touched with ineffable trouble that his Master 
had seemed to fail of His word and promise. At last that self- 
argument came to a sublime conclusion in a trust more strong than 
life or death. As the gloomy December Sunday sank into the night 
shadows, his last audible words on earth fell from his pale lips. 
The last thing like a sentence we could make out was, " If I die, I 
die unto the Lord. Amen." — Vol. ii. pp. 399 — 402. 

For Irving personally his biographer has unques- 
tionably done much. She has cleared his memory from 
many a cloud of misapprehension and censure of levity. 
She has brought out his noble personality, " with 
his imperfections breaking tenderly into his natural 
grandeur," in a way that exhibits rare skill, exquisite 
pathos, and never-failing sympathy. If she has done 
her hero not justice only, but something more, that is a 
fault on the right side ; which too should have ready 
pardon, for it is out of the feelings which prompt this 
exuberant appreciation that the vividness and reality of 
the narrative grow. Not the least proof that Irving 
was no ordinary man is in truth to be seen in the 
fascination he exercised over those who came within 
reach of his personal influence. We, to whom such 
influence can only be known as matter of hearsay, may 
more readily make allowance for the warm tones of 
personal affection than dispense with a biography like 
this, which could only be written as a labour of love. 
The same apology, supported by a further one which is 
needed by Mrs. Oliphant, as by all writers from the 
other side of Tweed, for the national propensity to 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 85 

grandiloquence, must serve also to excuse the somewhat 
inflated and not always correct style in which these 
memoirs are written. We demur to the titles of 
" Martyr and Saint," with which Mrs. Oliphant crowns 
Irving. But we are grateful to her for having given 
us a most eloquent and moving portraiture of a man 
whose life was unquestionably pitched in a high key, 
and who was unsparingly consistent in striving after 
his ideal by thought, word, and deed. 

There is something in the life of Irving as a whole 
very tragic in effect. To have been so lofty in aspi- 
ration, so pure in life, so gifted in intellect, and yet 
to have been the victim of one of the most miserable 
illusions to which a man ever sacrificed himself, is a 
spectacle to inspire both pity and fear. Here is a man 
faithful to death, and humble too, given over to " strong 
delusion that he should believe a lie." Such a fact at 
its first presentment gives a shock to the moral sense. 
That Irving had indeed his faults and his weaknesses 
is but to say that he was human ; that the appalling 
mistakes which desolated his later life had their vantage- 
ground in the defective elements in his character is 
obvious. Yet where there was so much that was noble 
and good it seems as if life had dealt hardly with him, 
and his lot were a cruel one. From his life, as from 
that of so many other good men, we may draw in about 
equal measure example and warning. What more 
splendid than that divine faith which carried him 
through the waste imbroglio of falsehood and disap- 
pointment to an end so peaceful? What more im- 
pressive in the caution it gives than the spectacle of 



86 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

one so able and so good so palpably misled in the 
greatest matters that the homeliest understanding could 
not avoid convicting him? The Gospel has no more 
effective weapons than its fundamental truths as set 
forth in the Creeds, and no more certain and peculiar 
fruits than righteousness and peace. Irving did ill to 
postpone these things to unfulfilled prophecy and mi- 
raculous signs. Yery significant is what is told of him 
just before he first went to London. He is spoken of 
as ' ' not patient of the usual orthodoxy." " You are 
content to go back and forward like this boat," he is 
reported to have said to a party of friends on the 
waters of the Gairloch, " but as for me I hope yet to 
go deep into the ocean of truth." The genius which 
thus disdains "the usual orthodoxy" is at least as 
dangerous to its possessor and the Church as it is rare. 
A minister of the Gospel needs very especially sobriety 
of judgment and a chastened self-distrust. 

It may be well to add a few words on the " splendid 
mischief" which marred Irving' s career — especially as 
there are not a few amongst our poor people who share 
with more or less distinctness the error of Irving, that 
miracles are a proper portion of the Gospel dispensation. 
The line which divides the spurious from the genuine 
miracle is, speaking generally, clear enough. An extra- 
ordinary performance — e.g., a cure or an utterance with 
tongues — is worthless for evidential purposes, except it 
be absolutely inexplicable on any other hypothesis than 
the presence of superhuman agency. We must in all 
reason and reverence attribute an act to the immediate 
interposition of God only in the last resort. If a dead 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 87 

man be restored to life, or a disease, plainly organic, 
be suddenly cured, and no less, we will admit, if men 
all at once speak real languages which they have never 
learned, such events are no doubt miraculous. All such 
wonder works, however, when adduced as testimony to 
the truth of a doctrine or the authority of a Church, 
involve two questions which should always be kept 
distinct — (1) whether the event ever happened at all ; 
(2) whether the cause of it was Divine interference. 
The one is a question of fact, the other of argument ; 
and the answers to the two may in the same case be 
quite different. Now, as regards the Irvingite miracles, 
and we might add those of the Wesleyans and other 
modern fanatics, and many of those of the Romanists, 
the facts need not be challenged at all, but the inferences 
can by no means be allowed. " The tongues" have 
not yet been found correspondent with any language 
spoken on the globe ; — some of the most gifted prophets 
amongst them (e. g., Mr. Robert Baxter and Mary 
Campbell) have recanted, and confessed that they 
simply uttered hysterical incoherences. The cures are 
remarkable, but one and all admit of explanation as 
being of functional as distinct from organic diseases. 
The most singular case was that of Miss Fancourt, who 
was healed through the instrumentality of one of the 
Evangelists. This lady, who was a religious woman, 
and of a religious family, had been ill of a spine disease 
for eight years, and during the last two was entirely 
confined to her couch. "We extract a portion of her 
narrative from Mrs. Oliphant's Appendix : — 

After asking some questions respecting the disease, lie added, " It 



88 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

is melancholy to see a person so constantly confined." I answered, 
" It is sent in mercy." " Do you think so ? Do you think the 
same mercy could restore you?" God gave me faith, and I 
answered, " Yes." " Do you believe Jesus could heal, as in old 
times?" "Yes." "Do you believe it is only unbelief that pre- 
vents it?" "Yes." "Do you believe Jesus could heal you at 
this very time?" "Yes." (Between these questions he was evi- 
dently engaged in prayer.) " Then," he added, " get up and walk 
to your family." He then had hold of my hands. He prayed to 
God to glorify the name of Jesus. I rose from my couch quite 
strong. God took away all my pains, and we walked downstairs. 
Dear Mr. G. prayed most fervently, Lord, have mercy upon us I 
Christ, have mercy upon us ! Having been down a short time, 
finding my handkerchief left on the couch, taking the candle, I 
fetched it* The next day I walked more than a quarter of a mile, 
and on Sunday from the Episcopal Jews' Chapel, a distance of one 
mile and a quarter. Up to this time God continues to strengthen 
me, and I am perfectly well. 

Now, as regards this lady, the fact of whose healing 
as described by herself admits of no question, there 
wa£ from the first a difference of medical opinion as to 
whether her malady had ever at any time been any 
thing more than a passive form of nervous ailment ; 
and further, whether, if it ever were organic, it had 
not been subdued, and was only awaiting one of those 
sudden impulses which in complaints of this sort often 
emancipate the patient at once and for all. Every 
word of Miss Fancourt's statement may be allowed, yet 
there will appear notwithstanding nothing at all super- 
natural in the transaction from first to last. It is well 
within the range of natural and ascertained laws, though 
laws perhaps not of every-day observation. Sudden 
transports of the feelings have often restored the use of 
weakened and even disabled limbs, put to flight serious 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 89 

and even mortal diseases, and unloosened the deadening 
grasp of palsy. Amongst such moral engines unfal- 
tering faith is doubtless the most powerful ; but that 
it is not so because of its religious character, and that 
its efficacy affords in itself no trustworthy ground for 
drawing religious inferences, is evident enough from 
this fact — that terror, joy, and anger have occasionally 
wrought miracles equally great. The influence of ima- 
gination in the cure of diseases may perhaps be mea- 
sured by its influence in causing them : and its power 
both ways is illustrated in medical works by countless 
instances. The convulsionaires of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, the cures of Yalentine Graterakes in the days of 
the Commonwealth, and of Prince Hohenlohe some 
forty years ago ; and the whole history of Animal 
Magnetism, may be referred to as examples of what we 
mean. We may safely admit that many of the miracles 
of the middle ages occurred as a matter of fact; we 
are not prepared to denounce as impostors all the pil- 
grims who have left crutches and fac-similes of diseased 
limbs at Holywell, and other such famous fountains; 
we could only reject the narratives of the cures of 
scrofulous diseases by the touch of many of our Kings 
and Queens on principles which would go hard against 
all that is received as the historv of those times. All 
we doubt about is the agency to which the healing 
work ought to be credited. The distinction between 
such marvels and those of the New Testament is ob- 
vious. It may not be practicable to draw a sharp line 
of demarcation between the natural and the super- 
natural ; but it is easy to see that our Saviour's cures, 



90 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

or the Pentecostal tongues, as obviously fall beyond the 
utmost assignable range of all the moral agencies in 
question, as the Irvingite tongues and cures fall within 
that range. Had we, again, no other marvels wrought 
by our Saviour than cures of diseases, the evidential mo- 
mentum of His miracles would be less than it is. Taken 
in conjunction with the raising of the dead, the turning 
water into wine, the walking on the sea, &c, the tes- 
timony of Christ's wonder works of healing is conclu- 
sive ; and the miracles of the New Testament must be 
taken as a whole, standing or falling together. 

Like the Wesley ans, the Irvingites rest their claim 
to miraculous gifts on the promises made to prayer — 
"Whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall 
receive." Ergo, the promise of God is recorded to 
bestow whatsoever thing the sincere believer thinks fit 
to ask. And so the fanatic claims at his pleasure to pawn 
the^ word and to wield the working of omniscience and 
omnipotence ! God would be unfaithful did He fail to 
render a direct and visible answer in kind to his demand 
for his real or fancied necessities ! To reason with such 
frenzy would be idle. The instances of our Lord, who 
prayed for that which it was not the Father's will to 
grant, and the similar instance of St. Paul, may be 
suggested. The vital truth should be insisted on that 
we know not what nor how to pray, as we ought ; and 
that the very essence of accepted prayer lies in perfect 
resignation. 

Out of the cardinal error that miraculous gifts are 
the indefeasible inheritance of the Christian Church 
has been evolved the whole system of Irvingism, which 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 91 

has seemingly established itself as one of the numerous 
denominations amongst us. Without directly excom- 
municating either our Church or his own as apostate, 
Irving and his followers took a line which comes round 
eventually to pretty much the same result. They argue 
that gifts and miracles had almost or altogether dis- 
appeared from Christendom because of the faithlessness 
and the coldness of Christians. Irving again and 
again records, in various terms, his conviction that 
there had been no complete and effective declaration 
of religious truth to men — in these islands at least — 
for centuries ; as he says once, if not oftener, since the 
first three centuries. To restore the Church to her first 
glories, to give her back to her early nearness to her 
Divine Head, when once more she should be crowned 
by the sensible and wonder-working tokens of Divine 
inhabitation, is the mission which the Irvingite com- 
munity claims. It has no standard of faith other than 
the Three Creeds, nor will it accept for itself the name 
and position of a separatist body. Rather does it assert 
itself as the true and living centre round which the scat- 
tered bands of Christ's Church militant must unite, 
and repudiate accordingly all other names than that of 
"Catholic Apostolic Church." It meets in separate 
congregations, and uses its peculiar ordinances of wor- 
ship, but only because it has received special commands 
from Heaven so to do. It has kinds of ministers not 
found in other Christian Churches of our latter days — 
Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, &c. ; but looks upon 
these, which are found in the first century, as intended 
for abiding orders in the Church ; fallen, indeed, into 



92 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

desuetude from the deadness and lack of faith in the 
days gone by, but now given back by the good Spirit 
of God, and, indeed, as necessary to prepare and perfect 
the Church for the impending advent of her Lord. 
With such a manifold ministry, and with oracles within 
their pale perpetually occupied in expanding to per- 
fection their ritual, the Irvingite community has little 
indeed about it now which reminds one of its Presby- 
terian parentage. It possesses, in truth, ceremonies 
and offices of worship which for complexity, richness, 
and elaborateness of symbolism, are unmatched by those 
of any Reformed Church. 

Being such in outward guise, and such in spiritual 
pretensions, the rise and unquestionable success of this 
form of religionism is a phenomenon well worthy of 
the attention of Churchmen. Its adherents at first 
were chiefly men of wealth and station;— a noteworthy 
fact when we remark that each member of this Church 
is under a sacred, and, we believe, a well-kept, obli- 
gation to devote a tenth part of his substance to its 
purposes. Of late, however, it has received consider- 
able accessions from amongst the poorer classes ; and in 
our large towns is at present probably the most pro- 
gressive of the sects. At the Census of 1851 it num- 
bered 6000 communicants ; but this number must have 
been very largely increased since that date. It has also 
congregations in Germany and the United States. We 
need not stay to point out the unsound nature of its 
ecclesiastical foundations. A Christian society, which 
carries on its very face an implied allegation that the 
gates of hell have in fact prevailed against Christ's 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 93 

Church for some fifteen hundred years, stands as it were 
self-condemned before the Word of God. Yet its suc- 
cess, though it will no doubt be transient as that of a 
sect always has been and always will be, is very signi- 
ficant ; especially when viewed in connexion with the 
fact that other sects also, even those which by origin 
and instinct most revolt from the process, are fain, in 
order to hold their ground at all, to veneer themselves 
with an outer surface of ecclesiasticism. The only way 
for the Dissenting interest to resist a little longer the 
rising Church feeling of our larger towns is to make 
Dissent as little unlike the Church as possible. Such a 
state of things is both cheering and instructive. In- 
structive because it shows us that a fearless and tho- 
rough development of our Church's system both of 
ritual and doctrine is now at last attractive to our people 
as well as obligatory on ourselves ; cheering because 
one cannot doubt that Englishmen, when the genuine 
and precious article is offered them, will not be put off 
in preference to it either with the singular electro- 
plating of Churchmanship wherewith the Baptist, the 
Independent, or the Socinian now-a-days essays to dis- 
guise his true self ; nor with the false metal, alloyed 
throughout, though highly polished and profusely deco- 
rated, which the Irvingite proffers to beguile him. 



ESSAY IV. 



Sunday : its Origin, History, and Present Obligation. The 
Bampton Lectures for 1860. By J. A. Hessey, D.C.L. 

Did any of our clerical readers ever hear " the Sunday 
question" discussed at a Ruridecanal Meeting P If not, 
let us advise them to propose the subject in the form 
Dr. Hessey has adopted as the title of the Bampton 
Lectures of 1860, for the next conference of the kind 
which they expect to attend. They will then hear 
perhaps twenty parish priests delivering themselves 
pretty unanimously as to the fact of the obligation, and 
not differing materially as to mode of observance, but 
holding, respecting the principles on which both obli- 
gation and observance should be rested, as many dif- 
ferent shades of views as there are individuals. Dr. 
Hessey truly remarks that " the clergy are much divided 
as to the main points treated of in these lectures ;" 
and that "great confusion of thought exists on this 
deeply important subject. " He has therefore done well 
to select his theme as he has done. If it is for any one 
it is for a Bampton Lecturer tantas componere lites. 
Without being able to congratulate Dr. Hessey on a 
decided success, we may safely praise the book as one 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



95 



of great and general interest, and a not unworthy suc- 
cessor to the valuable lectures of Mr. Rawlinson in 
1859 — themselves coming off not badly from a contrast 
so trying as that naturally suggested by their taking 
up those of Professor Mansel in 1858. " The Bamp- 
tons," in fact, would seem to have undergone a revival ; 
and are latterly become an appreciable addition to the 
literary total of each season. 

Dr. Hessey is well known as an eloquent preacher. 
His command of language is well used in the Lectures 
before us to warm and quicken the otherwise somewhat 
tedious historical and antiquarian researches into which 
his subject leads him. We notice indeed occasionally 
a free and easy style of expression which must have 
sounded, we think, somewhat oddly in the venerable 
rostrum of St. Mary's, and before an audience so pecu- 
liarly decorous and dignified. Dr. Hessey has, how- 
ever, conducted his delicate and difficult undertaking 
with rare learning and candour throughout. As a col- 
lection of materials bearing upon Sunday, its history, 
literature, antiquities, &c, the Bampton Lectures of 
1860 stand altogether without a rival ; indeed, without 
a second. The writer tells us that " he has had the 
subject before him for years, and has been in the habit 
of noting down whatever he found bearing upon it in 
the course of his reading. His view was formed and 
his materials were accumulated, for the most part, 
before his name was proposed to the electors." The 
authorities and quotations are enormous in number, 
and heterogeneous in character ; and are judiciously 
thrown together in an Appendix, so as to leave the 



96 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

main current of the argument unimpeded. This col- 
lection — comprising citations from pretty nearly every 
writer of note Vho has dealt with the subject, and 
coming down even to illustrations from the newspapers 
of our own day, will hardly be dispensed with by future 
students in this field ; and its usefulness would be 
greatly increased by the addition of a copious index. 
The book, indeed, is destitute altogether both of this 
and also of an adequate table of contents : in future 
editions such defects should be remedied. 

Dr. Hessey opens his subject by reciting the leading 
opinions upon it which have struggled for mastery in 
England since the Reformation. These opinions may 
be counted as six ; but they prove eventually reducible 
to two. " The no-Sabbath, or perpetual Sabbath, opi- 
nion" (i. e., that of those who maintain that to a Chris- 
tian every day is a Sabbath, and no one day more so 
tjjan another), " and that which advocates a Saturday 
Sabbath, may be omitted from our estimate altogether." 
The third and fourth views — differing ia degree rather 
than in kind — may be called " the Sabbatarian set of 
opinions ;" and the fifth and sixth, in like manner, 
jointly receive the name of " Dominical." The argu- 
ment held by the advocates of these antagonistic theories 
is thus stated for them by Dr. Hessey : — 

These Sabbatarians (say the Dominicals) would introduce Judaism 
into the Christian Church, revive ordinances which have long since 
passed away, impose upon consciences burdens which the Jews found 
too heavy to be borne, call acts by the name of sins which God has 
not so called ; in fact, against the advice of St. Paul, submit " to be 
judged in respect of the Sabbath days." We find fault with the as- 
sumption (unheard of in the ancient Church) that the Fourth Com- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 97 

mandment is the ground of the observance of Sunday; with the 
logic which says, because God commanded aforetime that the seventh 
day should be kept holy by Jews, therefore the first day is to be 
kept holy by Christians now ; and, as practical men, we find fault 
with the tristesse and rigour which the Sabbatarian theory of 
Sunday would introduce into the cheerful dispensation of Chris- 
tianity. Scotland is an instance in point. 

These Dominicals (thus argue the Sabbatarians on the other 
hand) evidently cast a slur on the volume of the Old Testament ; 
evidently set at nought the word of God uttered at the Creation 
and solemnly repeated at the giving of the Decalogue ; evidently 
use dishonestly a prayer which they breathe every time they pub- 
licly hear the Fourth Commandment; evidently substitute for a 
Divine foundation of Sunday, one of mere human invention, the 
authority of the Church. Besides, as practical men, we fear that if 
we do not adopt and urge for the Lord's Day the divine sanctions 
and regulations with which Scripture has invested and ordered the 
seventh day, men will gradually diminish their reverence for it, and 
eventually either throw off all restraint upon it, or, a few perfunctory 
services got through, spend the remainder of it, if not in licentious- 
ness, at least in frivolity. The Continent may furnish a warning in 
this matter. — Pp. 16 — 18. 

In discussing these opinions, Dr. Hessey's plan is first 
to indicate the conclusions to which his investigations 
have led him. In order to this, he states at the outset 
a number of positions which he is prepared to maintain, 
and which the subsequent lectures are devoted to sub- 
stantiate and illustrate. We will follow this method, 
and state the leading features of the result at which 
Dr. Hessey arrives : — 

That the Lord's Day (a festival on the first day in each week in 
memory of our Lord's Eesurrection) is of Divine institution and 
peculiarly Christian in its character, as being indicated in the New 
Testament, and having been acknowledged and observed by the 
Apostles and their immediate followers as distinct from the Sabbath 
(or Jewish festival on the seventh day in each week), the obligation 

H 



98 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

to observe which is denied, both expressly and by implication, in the 
New Testament. 

That in the two centuries after the death of St. John the Lord's 
Day was never confounded with the Sabbath, but carefully dis- 
tinguished from it, as an institution under the law of liberty, as 
observed on a different day and with different feelings ; and more- 
over, that, as a matter of fact, it was exempt from the severity of 
the provisions which had been the characteristic of the Sabbath, in 
theory, or in practice, or in both. — Pp. 19, 20. 

It will be observed here — as is more fully apparent 
in the sequel — that the Lord's Day is dissociated en- 
tirely from the Jewish Sabbath ; that the ground for its 
observance is not laid in the Fourth Commandment ; and 
that a distinct and independent footing i3 sought for it. 
The Lord's Day may, according to Dr. Hessey, be truly 
said to be of Divine institution ; but then that expression 
must be limited to signify no more than that its observ- 
ance has the sanction of the divinely-inspired Apostles : 
" Jt is as to its origin much on a par with Confirmation." 
Again, the Lord's Day may be said to be of eccle- 
siastical institution; but that title belongs to it in a 
" high and peculiar sense ;" for " the Ecclesia and its 
authorities at that time included inspired men, who, in 
reference to what they practised as regulators of the 
Church and what they ordained, were unable to err." 
Such is an outline of the view Dr. Hessey takes in 
these able Lectures. His treatment of Sunday, in all 
its bearings, is very elaborate and thorough ; and he 
deals fairly and justly with the several schools of opi- 
nion which come under his review ; yet we fear that he 
has effected little towards a settlement of the contro- 
versy, except it be in the way of furnishing weapons 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 99 

and vantage-ground to the combatants, and this he 
does to both sides with much impartiality. His theory 
is neither one thing nor another, and will satisfy 
neither "Sabbatarians" nor " Dominicals." Too high 
for the latter, it by no means comes up to the standard 
of orthodoxy for which the former pertinaciously stickle. 
Both sides, as is usual in such cases, will be more 
inclined to censure Dr. Hessey for what he denies 
than to thank him for what he allows them ; and the 
Bampton Lectures for 1860 have accordingly received 
some severe criticism. We must add a small contri- 
bution thereto by alleging several particulars in which 
we think Dr. Hessey's views respecting Sunday, its 
origin and obligation, are more or less defective and 
unsatisfactory. 

Dr. Hessey, as we have seen, severs our Lord's Day 
from the Sabbath of the Jews, holding that the latter 
was formally abrogated by the Gospel, and that the 
former, though a Divine ordinance in a special and 
limited sense, is no ways connected with it, unless it be 
in the -way of suggestion merely. We need not cite 
the passages from Romans, Colossians, &c, which are 
brought forward in proof that the Sabbath is done away 
with for Christians ; they are familiar to all who have 
considered the question. Neither will our space permit 
us to discuss the Patristic authorities on which Dr. 
Hessey relies for his assertion that the Sunday was 
distinguished by the Church in the earliest times and 
downwards, from the Sabbath and all belonging to it. 
The witness of the early Church on this point we inter- 
pret in a different sense from that which suggests itself 

h 2 



100 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



to Dr. Hessey, as will be seen by and by, and we are 
far from being convinced by him that the Sunday has 
nothing, or next to nothing, to do with the Sabbath 
and the Fourth Commandment. Ultimately the ques- 
tion resolves itself into this — Is the religious observance 
of one day in the week of positive or of moral obli- 
gation ? A positive precept is, of course, one the 
reason of which we cannot see, but which binds us 
because imposed by competent authority : a moral pre- 
cept is one for which we do see good and sufficient 
reasons. Prima facie, we imagine, most persons would 
call the Fourth Commandment a moral one, merely 
because it is found in "the commandments called 
moral. " Dr. Hessey also allows that the command- 
ment contains "a moral element," inasmuch as our 
duty to worship Grod involves for such creatures as we 
are fixed times and seasons for so doing. It appears to 
us* that this admission, with one or two obvious corol- 
laries, implies more than Dr. Hessey would be inclined 
to allow. It renders a reason for the imposition of the 
commandment, and, a captious person might say, brings 
it thereby at once within the category of moral. But 
must the reason which is to be assigned before any precept 
can be accounted moral and consequently of universal 
obligation, be necessarily one which is obvious and pa- 
tent, striking the mind at once when the subject-matter 
of the precept is thought upon : or does it suffice (as we 
rather think, — and believe Dr. Hessey would also) that 
experience and reflection elicit it ? We grant that no 
reason could be discovered by man's unaided understand- 
ing why the seventh rather than any other day of the 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 101 

week should be selected as holy, and so much of the 
Fourth Commandment we, of course, give up as positive 
and ceremonial. But is this the essence of the command- 
ment ? Is it not rather accidental to it, just as is the 
promise annexed to the commandment following ? The 
substance surely is not only that a fixed portion of our 
time should be more especially dedicated to God, which 
Dr. Hessey allows to be "a moral element," but also 
that that portion should be a seventh. For such an 
arrangement weighty reasons are not wanting. Expe- 
rience seems to attest that a holy rest during so much 
of our days is eminently accommodated to creatures 
constituted as we are, and in the highest degree expe- 
dient both for soul and body, not to say necessary for 
their welfare. Breaches of this commandment bring 
their penalty in the natural course of things, and quite 
as uniformly and certainly as is the case with the other 
nine. Conscience is found to accredit the obligation, 
and to lift up its voice against the violation of it. It 
would seem from all this, and much more that might 
be added, that the Fourth Commandment not only 
contains " a moral element," but is in substance moral. 
True, as it stands in the Decalogue, it is surrounded 
with Jewish sanctions, conditions, and circumstances. 
With the disannulling of the Jewish dispensation, these 
appendages drop off from it and from the other nine. 
Yet it, with the rest of the Decalogue, remains in sub- 
stance binding by its intrinsic force and virtue, nor can 
we discover any fundamental distinction which can 
mark it off from the other precepts of the same supreme 
code. 



102 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

It must be to a Churchman a strong confirmation of 
this argument that our Church, after the reading out 
of the Fourth Commandment, puts into our mouths the 
same prayer with which she follows up the others, 
" Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to 
keep this law ;" and in the general deprecation after 
the Tenth Commandment, again beseeches God " to 
write all these His laws in our hearts." Dr. Hessey's 
treatment of this weighty fact appears to us vague and 
elusive. It is right he should make his own statement, 
and the gist of it appears in the following : — 

Do what we will,, place the Lord's Day on whatever grounds we 
please, (unless we adopt the fiction that the first day of the week 
was the actual seventh from the Creation,) we must spiritualize it 
in some way or other as we utter the prayer about keeping it. The 
Sabbatarian spiritualizes it in his peculiar way — L e. by saying 
actually of the First Day, what was originally said of the Seventh 
Day. The man who holds the purely ecclesiastical theory spi- 
tualizes it in his way, or rather in a variety of ways which will be 
mentioned presently. He then does no strange thing, but Chris- 
tianizes the oldness of the letter, who, when he hears the Fourth 
Commandment rehearsed in his ears, thinks of the day hallowed by 
Christ's Kesurrection, the birthday of the world to life and immor- 
tality, and desiring grace to observe it worthily, says, " Lord, have 
mercy upon me, and incline my heart to use rightly Thine own day, 
the Lord's Day."— P. 204. 

We might argue that this as it stands is hardly con- 
sistent with the dissociation of the Lord's Day and the 
Sabbath, for which Dr. Ilessey elsewhere contends. 
But, passing by this point, we think Dr. Ilessey en- 
tirely fails to account for the expressions, " this law," 
" all these Thy laws," above referred to : and unless 
our Church intended to procure the religious observance 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 103 

of Sunday on the part of her members by a kind of 
pious fraud, she must have meant to rest that duty 
directly upon the Fourth Commandment. Dr. Hessey 
is too candid to have deliberately and intentionally 
omitted any considerations adverse to his own view. 
But he has certainly failed to realize the strength of 
the argument drawn from the Prayer Book as to the 
intention of the Reformers and the theory of the Church 
of England. He refers, indeed, to the declaration of 
the Articles that " no man is free from obedience to the 
Commandments called moral/' but has not, we think, 
noticed the significant fact, that our Reformers inserted 
the Ten Commandments not only in the Communion 
Office, but added them to the Creed and Lord's Prayer in 
the Baptismal vow — " the same Commandments which 
God spake in the 20th chapter of Exodus." Before the 
Reformation the Creed and Lord's Prayer were regarded 
as the summary of Christian doctrine. Since the Re- 
formation, it is the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and also 
the Ten Commandments, which appear side by side as 
the triple groundwork of Christian faith and practice, 
not only in the Communion Office, but also in the Offices 
for Baptism and Confirmation ; in several Rubrics ; and 
in the canon which prescribes that they should be all 
written up in our churches. We cannot see, when 
these facts are duly weighed, how any other conclusion 
can be reached than that the Church teaches the Fourth 
Commandment to be binding still upon us by the au- 
thority of Grod, and that the requirements of that 
Commandment pass on from the seventh to the first 
day. 



104 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

It is not our business to justify the Church of 
England in assigning the position she has done to the 
Decalogue. Yet we cannot refrain from reminding 
Dr. Hessey and "the Dominicals" of the solemn and 
peculiar sanctions attached to this portion of the Mosaic 
legislation. What does the terrible sight on Sinai 
mean? — what the writing of the Ten Words with "the 
Finger of God ?"— what the remarkable words of Deut. 
v. 22 (" These words the Lord spake out of the fire 
with a great voice, and He added no more"), except that 
the precepts thus guarded with an environment of tre- 
mendous circumstance stand supreme and alone, not to 
be blended in their sanctity with other ordinances, but 
to be regarded as of superior and extraordinary autho- 
rity and obligation? The Old Testament certainly 
gives no hint that the Fourth Commandment is of any 
less eternal force than the other nine. The marked 
and emphatic language of the prophetical books points 
quite in another direction ; — and it is noteworthy also 
that the Sabbath is further separated from the general 
code by being given to the Israelites in Exodus xvi. 
earlier than the rest of the Decalogue. 

The early Church, it is true, eschews the term Sab- 
bath, as applied to the Lord's Day, and does not appear 
distinctly to rest the obligation to observe the one on 
the Commandment which enjoins the other. The rea- 
son of this seems to us obvious enough. It was neces- 
sary for the first two centuries to protect the truth 
against corruption from Judaizers. With her usual 
policy — a policy which the ecclesiastical annals of every 
age copiously illustrate— the orthodox carefully avoided 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



105 



words and expressions which, however appropriate in 
themselves, might give a handle to heretics. It is ob- 
vious how the turn of the Judaizers might have been 
served if language had been used respecting the Lord's 
Day and the Ten Commandments such as is common 
enough in later writers. Judaism fairly dead root and 
branch, and the use of the word Sabbath as applied to 
Sunday having ceased to be objectionable, soon found its 
way into the Church. 

Dr. Hessey examines and rejects the theory that the 
institution of the Sabbath is coeval with creation. This 
part of the argument is a cardinal one, for it is obvious 
that if the Sabbath preceded the Mosaic law its obliga- 
tion does not rest merely on that law. On this point, too, 
there seems good reason to differ with Dr. Hessey. Hold- 
ing as we do that such an observance is founded deeply 
in the spiritual, moral, and physical needs of man ; 
bearing in mind that it has always, with but little 
variety of external circumstance, been a recognized 
feature in the polity of God's Church for above four 
thousand years, and was continued, as it were naturally 
and as a matter of course, when the law given by Moses 
passed away, — it would seem to us a priori probable, in 
the absence of evidence to show that it was a novelty 
characteristic of the Jewish dispensation, that the Sab- 
bath is as old as the human race itself. Not only is 
there no such evidence, but there is much in an oppo- 
site direction. Dr. Hessey tries hard and in good 
company to weaken the strong testimony of Genesis, 
chapter ii., verses 2 and 3 : — 

But still, the blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day is men- 



106 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

tioned so long before it was actually imposed upon man. That is, 
at any rate, a stubborn fact. How is it to be accounted for ? We 
may reply with Bed<?, God sanctified the Sabbath, " non actu et 
reipsa, sed decreto et destinatione sua, quasi diceret, Quia quievit 
Deus die septimo, hinc ilium diem ordinavit Sibi sacrum, ut indice- 
retur festus colendus a Judaeis." "We may remember, that though 
we may know perfectly well the cosmogony as it is set forth in 
Genesis, nay, the very words uttered by the Creator during and 
after the completion of His work, and the counsel and confederation 
of the glorious Three in One in accomplishing it, there is not 
sufiicient evidence for believing that its great and wondrous tale 
was disclosed to mankind before Moses wrote it. Genesis was a 
revelation to Moses, not to Adam. We may urge, with Archbishop 
Bramhall, " that the sanctifying of the seventh day there, is no 
more than the ' sanctifying ' of Jeremy ' from his mother's womb, 
that is the designing or destinating of him to be a prophet ; or than 
the 'separating" of St. Paul 'from his mother's womb.' So the 
sanctification of the seventh day may signify the decree or determi- 
nation of God to sanctify it in due time ; but as Jeremy's actual 
sanctification, and St. Paul's actual separation, followed long after 
they were born, so the actual sanctification of the Sabbath might 
follow long after the ground of God's decree for the sanctification of 
tha^day, and the destination of it to that use." — Pp. 136 — 138. 

Against this reasoning it appears enough to quote the 
words of the text themselves — " On the seventh day God 
ended His work which He had made ; and He rested 
on the seventh day from all His .work which He had 
made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified 
it ; because that in it He had rested from all His work 
which God created and made." What does this state- 
ment amount to — a statement which may have been 
written by Moses before he legislated under God's 
direction for the Jews? Surely its plain meaning is 
that God at audi from the very beginning consecrated the 
seventh day and set it apart with a peculiar blessing. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 107 

To God Himself, indeed, no one day can be more holy 
or restful than another. The honour put upon the day 
can therefore only have had reference to man. Against 
the plain teaching of this text the subtle glosses of ex- 
positors must for ever shatter themselves to pieces. If 
corroboration be asked for, it may be found in the 
language of Hebrews iv. What more plain than that 
Scripture from one end to the other recognizes the 
hallowing of the Sabbath day, and the right observance 
of it as required of man, from the very first ; when the 
Sabbath with the world was "made for man?" Dr. 
Hessey does not fail to point out, as militating against 
the opinion of the Sabbatical obligation having a moral 
character, that no traces of its recognition are found 
amongst some nations. But it seems on the whole far 
more difficult, without the Sabbath, to account for the 
septenary division of time which prevailed amongst the 
patriarchs, and which is traceable in the annals of more 
than one ancient people, than it is to explain how the 
sacred institution, if enjoined on Adam, became exten- 
sively neglected. If it was so, it only shared the fate of 
other portions of primaeval revelation. Entrusted for 
wise purposes to tradition only, the pure religion of our 
first parents soon became corrupted ; with the majority 
of mankind it perished utterly; it was kept alive in 
a certain group of families by repeated interpositions of 
God ; it was re-enacted and embodied in a durable and 
objective shape in the law of Moses. The foundation of 
the Sabbath is laid in creation itself; nay, the very 
dividing God's glorious work into six portions, followed 
by the mystical rest of Him " who fainteth not, neither 



108 CRITICAL KSSAYS. 

is weary," must be taken as the archetype of man's life 
in its labours and its repose. Standing thus at the very 
birth of time and of nature, inwrought thus into their 
very primordial structure, the Sabbath would seem to 
be for all generations, and to lay men under a prescrip- 
tion defeasible only when the ages shall cease to be. 

Differing thus from Dr. Hessey in thinking the Sab- 
bath to be Patriarchal as distinct from Jewish in origin, 
our views on other subsidiary but not unimportant 
points will differ also. Exodus xvi. is carefully dis- 
cussed by him, and Hengstenberg cited to the effect 
that there is proof in the narrative of the Sabbath being 
up to that time a novelty to the Israelites. Hengsten- 
berg' s opinion deserves every consideration, but on this, 
as on every other item of the debate, his and any other 
authority can be confronted by an equal and adverse 
one ; and the decision rolls back to the inquirer him- 
self.* This being so, we shall not hesitate to give 
our own opinion, which is that the points raised by 
Hengstenberg and Dr. Hessey are just as well explained 
on the ordinary supposition of the Sabbath having died 
out during the oppression of the taskmaster in Egypt, as 
they are on the hypothesis that the Sabbath was at the 
Exodus a novel institution. Indeed, to our thinking, 
Exodus xvi. has an air of referring rather to a familiar 
and established ordinance than to a strange one ; for 
surely, if imposed for the first time, it would be accom- 
panied with that explanation and introduction which in 
fact is totally wanting. 

On grounds, then, both Scriptural and ecclesiastical, 
we feel unable to divorce, as Dr. Hessey does, the Sab- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 109 

bath from the Lord's Day. Nor do we feel at all over- 
powered by the difficulty that if the Lord's Day has 
inherited its sanctity from the Sabbath, and from the 
Fourth Commandment, we are bound in consistency to 
keep the Saturday and not the Sunday. Doubtless this 
would be so if not otherwise ordered by an authority 
equal to that which sculptured the Ten "Words on the 
table of stone. We should not dare, on human autho- 
rity, to tamper with or to disturb one jot or one tittle of 
commands conveyed to man as were these. But nothing 
can be plainer than that the New Testament sets aside 
with adequate authority the Jewish Sabbath, whilst at 
the same time forbidding us to break one of the least of 
God's commandments. Couple with this the example 
of the Apostles and of the Apostolic Church in honour- 
ing the day of the Resurrection, and the significant 
name applied to it, apparently quite casually, by St. 
John, " the Lord's Day," points on which the testimony 
of the New Testament is rightly estimated and dwelt 
upon by Dr. Hessey as clear and decisive, and the 
grounds and obligation of observing Sunday seem to 
us definite enough. They are, to sum up, the law of 
nature; or if it be preferred, a law of the God of 
nature, emanating indeed from His supreme will, yet 
primordial and palmary ; a law re-stated and re-enforced 
on Sinai, obligatory on us now as it has always been on 
man, though stripped on plain warrant of the New 
Testament of trappings which adapted it for the Jewish 
economy, and invested with a new and a Christian 
environment such as befits the spirit of the later dis- 
pensation. 



110 CRITICAL KSSAYS. 

To point out that a theory is dangerous, and likely 
to load to ill consequences, is of itself no sufficient re- 
futation. A theory, if deserving of consideration at all, 
justly asks to be appraised by its reasons, not by its 
results. The truth on all matters which it is our duty 
to discuss must be honestly spoken, and the God of 
truth will provide for the issues. But having stated 
why we cannot accept Dr. Hessey's solution of the 
Sunday question as altogether adequate, and having 
indicated briefly the outline of that which seems to us 
sounder and more complete, we have earned a right to 
say that we think ill results in practice would follow 
should Dr. Hessey carry all his hearers and readers 
with him. It cannot be demonstrated from the New 
Testament alone that the observance of Sunday is bind- 
ing, as the undoubted will and command of God, upon 
all who acknowledge the authority of the Bible. For 
Churchmen, indeed, there remains the injunction of the 
Church — fortified, in this case, by the antiquity and 
universality of the Sunday festival. Far be it from us 
to make light of the authority of the Church on such a 
matter. But for the sake of others we should be sorry 
that the obligation to hallow the Lord's Day should be 
rested wholly or chiefly upon this footing. The fact 
that the Apostles hallowed this day we, with Dr. Hessey, 
hold to be established from the New Testament, — and 
a weighty fact it is. But it cannot from that fact alone 
be inferred that the obligation is a perpetual one. The 
Church has on wise grounds dispensed with several ec- 
clesiastical arrangements which were originally founded 
by the Apostles, and which arc accredited by Scripture; 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. Ill 

Deaconesses, for instance,— the Love Feast, — the Kiss 
of Peace. We have looked anxiously at this point, and 
must avow that Dr. Hessey's theory fails in our judg- 
ment to show a satisfactory reason why the Sunday is not 
to be regarded as one of those ecclesiastical ordinances 
which may be ordered by the Church variously as 
spiritual expediency shall require. It is unlikely, in- 
deed, that the Church would ever exercise such powers 
as regards the Lord's Day, if she had them; though 
such an exercise has more than once been mooted. 
But it seems to us important that the sanctity of the 
Lord's Day should have a foundation as universal as is 
the name of Christian itself, and Dr. Hessey's theory 
plainly provides for it one which, however adequate to 
us, is but partially recognized. He cannot produce any 
positive command from the New Testament; the mere 
example of the Apostles is not necessarily obligatory 
in all things ; from the Old Testament he cuts us off. 
The belief, happily all but universal amongst religious 
men in England, that Sunday is to be kept holy on no 
other and no meaner command than that of God Him- 
self, is far too precious and far too salutary for us to 
welcome any opinions which might tend, however un- 
designedly, to shake it. 

In the practical part of his subject Dr. Hessey 
will secure a far more general concurrence. His 
last chapter treats of the mode in which Sunday 
should be kept, and its remarks and suggestions are 
large-hearted, wise, and pious. Indeed it is cheering 
amidst the great diversity and multitude of theoretical 
opinions about the Lord's Day, to see such a concord 



112 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

amongst religious men as to the right and desirable 
mode of keeping it. Englishmen have long acquiesced 
in a sort of national and traditional mode of spending 
the day. Ours are times when the why and the where- 
fore of every thing are agitated and sifted : and Sunday 
observance must, amongst the rest, undergo its share 
of questioning. Dr. Hessey has by no means disposed 
of all — if indeed he has of any — of the difficulties which 
surround the question, though he goes thoroughly into 
it, — honestly grapples with it, and brings to bear upon 
it great learning, impartiality, and patience. What- 
ever be the issue of the debates now rife, about " Sun- 
day, its origin, history, and present obligation," we 
hope that the practical accord which has hitherto sub- 
sisted amongst us will not be disturbed. The reverence 
so generally paid to Sunday by our people of all deno- 
minations, and even by those not decidedly religious, 
is very intimately connected with the prosperity and 
greatness of England, and with her character as a 
Christian nation. 



ESSAY V. 



The Life of the Right Reverend Father in God Thomas Wilson, 
D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man. Compiled chiefly from 
Original Documents, by the Eev. John Keble. Two Vols., 8vo. 
J, H. Parker. 

There is no work of ecclesiastical biography which 
was better worth doing well, and none which more 
needed to be well done, than the Life of Bishop Thomas 
Wilson. We must add that there is no one who could 
more fitly take up the task than the respected author of 
The Christian Year. Of lives of Bishop Wilson there 
were indeed two extant already ; the older and original 
one compiled by the Rev. Clement Cruttwell ; the later, 
written in 1819 by the Rev. Hugh Stowell, Rector of 
Ballaugh, Isle of Man, the father of Canon Hugh 
Stowell, of Manchester. The former of these is suffi- 
ciently meagre and imperfect, and is, in fact, only pre- 
fixed as a sort of Introduction to the Bishop's works, 
which were first published, under Mr. CruttwelTs super- 
intendence, in 1781. It is interesting to note that 
Mr. Cruttwell was a medical man at Bath, and had 
under his charge the Bishop's only surviving son and 
heir, Dr. Wilson. Dr. Wilson entrusted to his pro- 
fessional attendant the editing of his father's works, 



114 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

and the editor was so impressed by the example and 
writings of his author that he changed his profession 
and became a clergyman himself. Mr. Sto well's bio- 
graphy of the Bishop went through three or four 
editions, and is written in a spirit thoroughly appre- 
ciative, not to say enthusiastic, as regards its subject. 
Indeed, it furnishes one amongst many pleasing proofs, 
and Mr. Keble himself might be suggested as another, 
that it is possible to have very decided Church prin- 
ciples of what may be even thought of a strong party 
complexion, and to take a leading part in maintaining 
and defending them, and yet by piety, consistency, and 
disinterestedness, to conciliate the hearty affection and 
respect of those whose ecclesiastical sympathies are 
quite of an opposite tone. But Mr. Stowell's Life of 
Bishop Wilson, though valuable as having preserved 
local traces and anecdotes gleaned on the very scenes of 
th§ Bishop's labours, is written in a somewhat stilted 
and conventional style. It is, in fact, throughout an 
Evangelical sermon on a High Church text ; and is so 
occupied in edifying the reader that very much which 
is essential to any thing like a complete and true con- 
ception of the Bishop's character and labours is alto- 
gether unnoticed. Mr. Keble's Life of the Bishop, now 
given to us in two good-sized volumes, and forming the 
concluding portion of the " Anglo- Catholic Library," 
is therefore on every account welcome : welcome as 
from a pen which always enriches our literature when 
it adds to it ; and welcome because filling a manifest 
gap in our ecclesiastical annals. In a literary point of 
view it would be possible enough to find fault with 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 115 

Mr. Keble's work. It is in truth somewhat long, and 
in parts somewhat heavy. There are very numerous 
and copious extracts, for the most part now made 
publici juris, from the Registers of the diocese of Sodor 
and Man, from the Rolls-office at Castle Rushen, from 
the Sacra Privata, Letters, and other memoranda of the 
Bishop. The biographer's modesty, fidelity, and scru- 
pulous veneration for his subject, have oftentimes de- 
terred him from that free and bold use of his ample 
materials which in such a hand would vastly have 
increased the attractiveness and interest of his work. 
The documents given are often of a legal and technical 
character, and often might have judiciously admitted 
of abridgment. So, too, the repeated records of cases 
of discipline, following one after another with little 
variation of symptoms or treatment, might, so far as 
we can see, have been summarized with advantage after 
a few specimens had been given in integrity. We must 
add, however, Mr. Keble's characteristic apology : — 

Among many defects of which he is himself conscious, and many 
more, doubtless, which the reader will too easily discern, the com- 
piler would wish to add one word in excuse for the length to which 
this Memoir is extended, and another for the freedom with which 
the Bishop's private thoughts, and the follies and frailties of many 
with whom he had to do, are here exhibited. One answer will 
serve for both. It was not within the writer's skill to tell the 
truth concerning him adequately with less minuteness or with more 
concealment. And as he found that in approved histories of times 
even nearer our own, the personal faults of those concerned in 
public transactions are not passed over, so far at least as they may 
reasonably affect men's judgment on those transactions, he did not 
shrink from taking the same liberty in this case ; the rather, that 
very many of the painful matters thus brought forward were more 

i 2 



116 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

than mitigated by after repentance and amendment. — Preface, pp. 
viii, ix. 

In outward and worldly incidents the life of Bishop 
Thomas Wilson presents little that is striking. He 
was the son of a Cheshire yeoman, whose family, how- 
ever, had long been of established respectability in the 
neighbourhood. He was born in 1663, educated at a 
good grammar-school in Chester, and removed at 
eighteen to Trinity College, Dublin, with a view to 
studying for the profession of medicine. We do not 
find that he distinguished himself at college; indeed, 
his present biographer has to plead for a verdict of 
"not proven" as to certain charges of indolent and 
irregular habits advanced on the strength of some 
entries found in the buttery books of his college, which 
place on record the fines incurred by Wilson for infrac- 
tions of academical rules. It would seem, however 
difficult some of these items may be to explain, that 
Wilson's college life must have been characterized on 
the whole by exemplary conduct and earnest application 
to study. Certain it is that the judgment of his friends, 
and those wise and good ones, pointed decisively to the 
ministry as the occupation for which he was peculiarly 
fitted, and so strongly was this felt by his ecclesiastical 
superiors that he was ordained Deacon by Dr. Moreton, 
Bishop of Kildare, on the same day as the cathedral 
church of the diocese was reconsecrated after being 
rebuilt, whilst yet short by several months of the ca- 
nonical age, and without a title. His leading friend at 
this time was Mr. (afterwards Archdeacon) Ilewetson, 
a man of wealth and position, and, above all, of decided 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 117 

piety and churchmanship, whose acquaintance lie had 
made at Dublin. Rarely have we met with any thing 
more real, sober-minded, and earnest than the paper 
entitled " Mich. Hewetson's Memorandums concerning 
the Consecration of the Church of Kildare, and the 
Ordination of his dear friend Tho. Wilson, with some 
Advices thereupon." Hewetson gave Wilson on this 
day " another precious little relic " which yet remains, 
"the little memorandum-book which his friend gave 
him soon after the ceremony, having first inserted in 
his own handwriting the foregoing account of the day's 
proceedings. It is a very small duodecimo, bound in 
black leather, with brazen clasps, and answers exactly 
to the description given of it by Cruttwell." Mr. Wilson 
set a great value on it, carefully preserved it, and con- 
tinued to enter in it minutes of such occurrences as he 
thought worthy of notice, as well as his prayers on 
particular occasions. " The occurrences for the most 
part are entered at one end of the book, the prayers at 
the other ; between them both, however, they fall very 
short of filling up the whole book, 158 pages. It seems 
that when this was not in the way, he just took up some 
other vacant MS. book, and inserted the prayer or 
memorandum where he found room for it. And so it 
came to pass that his Sacra Privata diffuse themselves 
through four or five volumes, of which the original, and 
in some respects the most interesting, is this gift of 
Hewetson's." 

Wilson was next year provided with a cure and 
maintenance by his maternal uncle, Dr. Sherlock, the 
author of the well-known Practical Christian. Sherlock 



118 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

was rector of Winwick, which at that time had three 
chapelries attached to it ; for one of which, Newchurch 
Kenyon, now a rectory with 2500 souls, then a hamlet 
five miles from the mother church, Wilson was accepted 
as curate. He remained here, residing with Sherlock 
till that "kind and pious uncle" died in 1689, and, 
indeed, for three years afterwards under the next rector, 
Thomas Bennet, afterwards Master of University Col- 
lege, Oxford. "We cannot do better than quote a page 
or two from the narrative of this part of Wilson's life. 
They will illustrate not only Mr. Keble's manner of 
handling his subject, but more than one trait also of 
that subject's character ; his self-denying charity, his 
systematic management of it as of every thing, and his 
peculiar mode of seasoning all his doings with prayer : — 

Wilson's stipend at Newchurch was 301. per annum, only one- 
third more than what had sufficed him at the University. But as 
heJived with his uncle in the parsonage of Winwick, and was an 
excellent economist, he was enahled out of this small allowance to 
set apart one-tenth for charitable purposes, if indeed he had not 
done so from the first hour that he had any thing which could be 
called an income, that is, from his first going to the University ; for 
so much seems to be implied in a memorandum dated 1693, when 
he was leaving Winwick for Knowsley: "Having hitherto but 
given a tenth of my incomes " (the plural seems used purposely, to 
denote all his means from whatever source), "I do for the future 
purpose to give" so much more. — Vol. i. p. 31. 

The earliest entry on the subject in his existing 
papers shows that the setting aside of money for alms 
was with him a devotional act, a solemn sacrifice. It 
consists of the following prayer, " Before laying aside of 
Alms for ye Poor," with certain texts prefixed: — 

It is by Thy bounty and providence, O Cod, yt I want nothing 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 119 

wch is needful eithr for my soul or body ; Be pleas'd in mercy to 
receive this small acknowledgment of my thankfulness for ye many 
favours wch by Thy goodness I every day meet with, and give me 
grace yt while I am able, I never turn away my face from any poor 
man, yt Thy face and ye light of Thy countenance may never be 
turned away from me. Lord my God ! whatever I have prepared 
for Thy poor cometh of Thee, and of Thy own do I give Thee. 
Pardon all my vain expences, and teach me so to husband the riches 
wth wch I am blessed, that I may always have wherewith to offer 
a testimony of my duty and gratitude to my great Benefactor, to be 
bestowed on those poor people whom Thou shalt direct me to 
relieve. And grant, Lord, that if ever it should be Thy pleasure 
to change my circumstances into a worse condition, give me grace 
yt I may bear it patiently, knowing assuredly yt my treasure is in 
heaven, to wch place I most humbly beseech Thee to bring me for 
ye sake of J. Xt. Amen. 

The manner in which he made this dedication was (we are in- 
formed) as follows : — On the receipt of all monies, he regularly 
placed the portion designed by himself, as well as what was given 
him by others for charitable uses, in the drawer of a cabinet, 
with a note of the value, to be kept sacred for the use of the poor, and 
on no account whatever to be touched for any other purposes. The 
form of the note, as follows, is copied from the original : — " Jan. 29, 
1750. Put into this drawer Twenty Pounds British, being one 
year's money, the bounty of the Eight Honourable the Lady Eliz. 
Hastings, for the year, and payable at Martinmas, 1750. Thomas 
Sodor and Man." If the money placed there was his own, the note 
differed only in distinguishing from whence, or how, the money had 
been paid to him. And into this sacred repository, called "the 
Poor's Drawer," at first a tenth, then a fifth, a third, and at length 
the half, of his revenues, were placed ; and whenever he deposited 
the poor man's portion, he did it with the same awe and reverence 
as if it had been an offering to Heaven. 

In Wilson's several memorandum-books, this prayer exists in four 
several forms, and is a good specimen of his practice of re-writing 
his devotional pieces over and over with slight variations, rather 
than composing fresh ones for the time being, which to many 
(Bishop Taylor, for example) seems to have approved itself as the 
more natural way. Doubtless Wilson's feeling in this, as in many 



120 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

other characteristic practices, was eminently that of our most genial 

poet: — 

" The chjld is father to the man. 

And I could wish my days to be 

Bound each to each by natural piety." 

Another department of active charity in which Bishop Wilson 
Avas eminent throughout his pastoral life was administering medical 
aid to those who stood in need of it. For this he was especially 
qualified, having been at first intended (as we have seen), and in 
part educated, for the medical profession. And he made it, as 
might be expected, matter of special devotion. The precious 
memorandum-book contains two prayers, written seemingly about 
the same time with that on giving of alms. — Vol. i. pp. 32, 33. 

Sherlock had been chaplain to the great Earl James 
of Derby, and had been entrusted by his son and 
widowed mother with the task of restoring Church 
order in the isle and diocese of Man after the troubles 
of the Great Rebellion. To this excellent man and 
consistent Churchman we must under God attribute the 
main part in the forming and disciplining of Wilson's 
character and opinions, and also, in all likelihood, his 
introduction to the family of Derby. In 1692 Wilson 
" accepted from William, nintji Earl of Derby, an ap- 
pointment to be his domestic chaplain, and tutor to his 
only son, Lord Strange." To these offices was added 
that of Master of the Almshouse at Lathom. We must 
not dwell on the fidelity and discretion with which, 
under circumstances more than once of a trying cha- 
racter, Wilson acquitted himself of duties in themselves 
delicate and difficult, and sure to be more than ordi- 
narily so for an uncompromising and sincere Churchman 
like Wilson to carry out in the house and family of a 
great English nobleman of the seventeenth century. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 121 

His zeal and fidelity were so remarkable, that in 1697 
Wilson had the bishopric of Sodor and Man pressed 
upon him by his patron, in whose gift as Lord of the 
Isle the see then was. Lord Strange was now eighteen 
years old ; the bishopric had been vacant four years ; 
the Crown, at the instance of the Archbishop of York 
as Metropolitan, was urgent that an appointment should 
be made without delay, and the earl practically forced 
it upon his chaplain. " The bishopric was, of course," 
as Mr. Keble observes, " the greatest trust, though far 
from the most eligible benefice in the earl's gift ; of 
course, also, Wilson must at once have been thought of 
as the very person to be charged with it : what remained 
of Lord Strange's education might be otherwise pro- 
vided for, more easily than a competent Bishop for the 
poor neglected island could be found." The ordinary 
income of the see seems at that time to have been about 
300^., whilst all the appurtenances of it, the house, the 
demesnes, &c, were in the most dilapidated condition, 
and the cathedral was an absolute ruin. Wilson had at 
once to raise and disburse a sum equal to four and a 
half years' income, in order to put things in barely 
tenantable condition. Yet at that very time he writes — 

" My Lord Derby offered me the Parsonage of Baddesworth in 
Yorkshire to hold it in commendam with my Bishoprick ; I refused 
it as utterly inconsistent wth my duty, and an obligation I have 
sometime since laid myself under of never talcing two ecclesiastical 
preferments with cure of souls; and especially where I must 
necessarily be absent from one of them ; and of wch resolution it 
does not yet repent me yt I made it." His patron was of course 
fully aware of the poverty and dilapidated condition of the see ; and 
it might seem, as no doubt it did to many, that there would be no 
inconsistency in accepting for a time the help which this second 



122 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

vacancy at Badsworth placed so seasonably within Ins reach. Some 
might even call it a providential opportunity. But he had " opened 
his mouth to the Lord," and he could not "draw back." How 
great this self-denial was will appear further as we go on. And 
who can say how fruitful in blessing through his episcopate all 
along such a courageous and faithful beginning may have proved ? 
Almost all Wilson's predecessors had kept their English prefer- 
ments, if they had any, by reason of the poverty of the see. His 
scruples must have appeared at the time very strange and high- 
flown. — Vol. i. p. 82. 

For fifty- eight years, till his death at the age of 
ninety-three, did this good man abide in the sphere of 
duty thus allotted him. The island at that time was 
reckoned so remote as to be a kind of place of banish- 
ment to those who had to reside in it. Mr. Keble gives 
some amusing extracts from the letters of Bishop Levinz, 
Wilson's immediate predecessor, in which he petitions 
the Primate to procure him " a house and prebend att 
Winchester, or something equivalent, that he may have 
wherewithall to protect him for the future from winter- 
ing in the severe clime of Man." He speaks of " his 
Patmos, wheer all the comfort he can promise himselfe 
is from this topique only, that there he may have time 
enough for his prayers :" bewails " the confinement of 
his melancholy retreat," " his disconsolate residence," 
and " the terrible storms, tempests, and inundations of 
rayn." Wilson, however, was far from treating the 
bishopric of Man, as has been too generally done, as a 
stepping-stone to a more splendid Episcopal throne. 
lie was offered English bishoprics both by Queen Anne 
and her successor, and refused them on the ground that 
he should better serve the Church of Christ by con- 
scientiously and thoroughly administering the smaller 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 123 

overseership than by less perfect occupation of wider 
duties and grander opportunities. 

The chief interest belonging to the annals of Wilson's 
Episcopate centres in his revival through his diocese 
of the primitive ecclesiastical discipline. For at- 
tempting this the circumstances of the isle offered 
very remarkable facilities. It was, in fact, a feudal 
family on a large scale, with the Earl of Derby 
for its head. Dissenters there were none, or next to 
none, amongst its 14,000 people. The ancient canons 
of the Manx Church were yet far from obsolete, and 
" godly discipline, " if feeble and intermittent, had by 
no means utterly perished either in name or thing. 
Wilson found no difficulty whatever in procuring in 
1703 the passing by his own Synod, and the sanction- 
ing by all the civil authorities of the isle, " the twenty- 
four Keys," and the Earl's Governor and Council, with 
the final imprimatur of the earl himself, of a complete 
series of ecclesiastical constitutions, "in which the 
existing rules were fully recognized, and provision 
made for enforcing by their means the whole edifying 
system of the Prayer Book." The island was subject 
to the Metropolitical see of York, and therefore of 
course "bound by the English canons as any other 
diocese would be ; with this difference, that it was free 
to carry them out ; the Acts of Parliament which super- 
sede them in England having no force in Man, because 
that island was not especially mentioned in them." On 
this code Mr. Keble remarks as follows : — 

The main characteristic of the Manx ecclesiastical code was its 
perseverance in supposing that the people subject to it had faith, 



124 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

long after that too flattering idea had been practically given up in 
every other portion of the Reformed Church of England. For since 
the Toleration Act enabling all the world to withdraw themselves 
from the obedience of the Church, yet to retain their full right to 
communion with the same Church ; and the previous Act, 13 Car. II. 
c. 12, abolishing the oath ex officio, and therefore making it impos- 
sible to protect holy things except in the comparatively rare case of 
very definite crimes fully established by legal proof; — the English 
Church had surrendered itself, both in theory and practice, to the 
hard necessity of doing without the ancient discipline. No blame 
need attach to its governors ; the discipline presupposes faith gene- 
rally prevailing; faith, first in the reality and grievous effect of 
excommunication ; and next, in the real danger of taking a false 
oath. When these convictions are generally gone from men's 
minds, Church courts and Church laws may do much incidental 
good, but they can only help you to the shadow of that for which 
mainly they were ordained. In the diocese of Man, down to Wilson's 
time, this, faith was still remaining in some tolerable measure. An 
oath was generally accounted a serious thing : and (as has been 
mentioned before) there were hardly any Dissenters. To all, there- 
fore, who had any religion at all, excommunication was a reality. 
Accordingly we find (and the same is generally affirmed of the 
Northern civil codes, which in part displaced those of Rome) that a 
great part of the evidence in many cases lay in the voluntary oaths 
of one or more of the parties. Thus " in a difference depending 
betwixt party and party, when one gives it to the other upon his 
oath absolutely, there shall be no further hearing of that matter in 
the Spiritual Court." This implies so much trust in men's oaths as 
to ignore all risk of collusion. — Vol. i. pp. 202, 203. 

From the first the Bishop carried with him the 
popular feeling of his flock. They went heartily with 
him from the very beginning of his energetic activity 
amongst them to the close : — 

We hear and read sometimes of the happy conformity of some 
well-conducted parish to the plans of some popular and self-denying 
clergyman. But for a whole diocese we shall hardly meet with 
any thing, at least in modern Church history, superior or even 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 125 

equal to this. Cruttwell in few words expresses most significantly 
the effectiveness of the reformed Manx canons, when he remarks 
that they "supersede virtually the Preface to the Commination 
Office." And he adds, no douht from trustworthy information, 
" Lord Chancellor King was so much pleased with these constitu- 
tions, that he said, ' If the ancient discipline of the Church were 
lost, it might he found in all its purity in the Isle of Man.' " — Yol. i. 
pp. 211, 212. 

The Bishop had been largely instrumental during 
the first year of his Episcopate in obtaining for the 
island an advantageous settlement from the Earl of 
Derby of certain civil grievances under which its in- 
habitants laboured. He never ceased also in many 
negotiations with the Lord, the successive Governors, 
and sometimes with the British Government, to identify 
himself with the interests of his people, and to act 
wherever he rightly could do so as their firm and very 
able champion. His zeal for their temporal good as 
well as his boundless charity, his personal gentleness 
and dignity, and his impartiality, brought about the 
willing acceptance of an ecclesiastical regimen which, 
in modern times at least, is quite without a parallel or 
even a second. In minutely recording the working of 
Wilson's discipline, and commenting upon it, Mr. Keble 
occupies two-thirds of the volumes before us. Some of 
Wilson's canons are curious enough, and evidently 
characteristic of a very rude state of society : — 

" As in Law 22, the use of certain reproachful words is made 
punishable by wearing the ' bridle ' at the market cross, or to make 
seven Sundays' penance in several parish churches." A very severe 
censure, it may seem, for just calling a man a dog. Perhaps among 
the Manxmen of that time it might be a higher affront than we 
now account it, and so likely to lead to a breach of the peace. As to 



126 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

the "bridle," it is a kind of gag, which being put in a person's 
mouth, hinders him or her from speaking articulately. A specimen, 
made by the order of Bishop Wilson, was lately, perhaps is still 
now, shown as a relic at Bishop's Court. Law 23 has a still 
stranger sound. It ordains that " common whores be drawn after a 
boat in the sea during the Ordinary's appointment." And there 
are repeated instances of its being carried out in Wilson's time as 
before : just as in an early stage of English criminal law, " open 
lewdness grossly scandalous was punishable by the temporal 

judges, not only with fine and imprisonment, but also with such 
corporal infamous punishment as to the court in its discretion might 
seem meet, according to the heinousness of the crime ;" such punish- 
ment, for example, as "whipping at the cart's tail," to which 
Shakespeare makes Lear allude as to no very unusual thing. This, 
in the Isle of Man, was changed into being dragged, without whip- 
ping, through the water, at the stern of a boat, which was called its 
" tail," probably in allusion to the other punishment. The Manx 
fashion seems the less unseemly as well as the less severe of the 
two. Law 19 provides a special censure for one striking a minister ; 
another indication of an uncouth state of society. He is to be 
" excommunicated ipso facto, and do penance, and after satisfac- 
tion given to the law, to receive absolution, and be received at the 
church stile into the church by the minister reading before him 
the fifty-first Psalm, and before the congregation to repeat his 
schedule after the minister." There is something in this severe, but 
not surely unloving. The offended person saying the Psalm for the 
offender, and so making himself partaker of his penance, expresses 
any thing but revenge or priestly haughtiness. — Vol. i. pp. 201, 
202. 

Accordingly we read again and again of penances 
performed "bare-footed, and bare-legged, and bare- 
headed, covered over with a white linen sheet, and a 
small white wand in his hand." And in some cases the 
severest inflictions were carried out where they seem to 
our mind peculiarly shocking and barbarous : — 

" Katharine Kinred, though rigorously dealt with before for her 
frequent instances of whoredom (this being the fourth bastard child 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 127 

she has born), is now found to be in a manner irreclaimable, in 
regard neither the corporal nor the spiritual punishments inflicted 
have had the due effect upon her ; she, after imprisonment, penance, 
and dragging in the sea, continued still remorseless. This her 
hardened and impenitent state loudly calls for the most dreadful 
sentence — viz., to be excluded from the society of Christians, but 
that a gross ignorance, and a degree of unsettledness and defect of 
understanding, might hinder the expected impression of it on her 
soul. For this time, therefore, it is ordered that she be twenty-one 
days closely imprison'd, and (as soon as the weather will permit) 
dragged in the sea again after a boat, and also perform public 
penance in all the churches of this island ; after which, if she be 
found worthy, she shall be received into the Church's peace; or 
otherwise, which we pray God prevent, she will fall under the fearful 
sentence before-mention'd." This is signed by the Bishop and 
both the Yicars-General. The first part of the sentence, it appears, 
was executed, and the penances in the several churches began. 
They took a long time, for the earliest reported dates May 24, 1719, 
the latest July 24, 1720 ; and at last a real impression seems to 
have been produced upon the poor half-witted creature. The cer- 
tificates of the clergy all run in this strain : — " I do hope she'll 
become a true penitent, considering the defect of her under- 
standing ;" — " did penance in appearance becomingly ;" — " with a 
degree of concern not to be expected of her ;" — " as became a peni- 
tent ;" — " with as much submission and discretion as can be ex- 
pected of the like of her." The Bishop's conclusion is — " This 
unhappy woman gives very many promises of leading a better life 
for the time to come. In hopes of this, and that age and the 
experience of the troubles she has met with, and the good advice 
and frequent admonitions she will have from her pastor, may prevail 
with her to lament the sins she has been guilty of during the 
remainder of her life, and that she may, according to her capacity, 
bring forth fruits meet for repentance, I do desire that she may, 
after performing public penance, be received into the peace of the 
Church according to the form appointed for that purpose. — Given 
under my hand, this 13th of Aug., 1720." 

The result in this case, as far as we are told it, appears to justify 
Bishop Wilson's idea — which was, I suppose, that a dull and very 
childish heart and mind, hardened by ill habits, could scarcely be 



128 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



turned into a bettor way without some bodily and outward in- 
fliction ; and he adopted that which the law of the land pre- 
scribed."— Vol. i. pp#296. 298. 

For ten years " the Discipline," launched thus amidst 
general approval, was carried out with a high hand. 
The decrees of the Consistory Court were summarily 
backed where necessary by the civil power ; and as Man 
did not enjoy the advantage of constabulary, a soldier 
from the nearest garrison was at once despatched on the 
demand of the officer of the Spiritualty to enforce obe- 
dience to the sentence. Wilson, though a strict and 
watchful disciplinarian, proved himself a considerate 
and even tender one. Again and again do the entries 
in the register record remissions and relaxations issued 
by the Bishop to offenders on representations from the 
clergy that the penitence seemed deep and hearty ; and 
such indulgences are wont to be accompanied by a few 
pithy and discriminating words of remark or exhorta- 
tion, such as would be sure on a rude yet sensitive race 
to tell almost as much as the penances themselves. But 
in Man, as in larger communities, the harmony between 
Church and State did not continue perpetual. In 1713 
Governor Mawdesley was removed, and superseded by 
Captain Alexander Home. This man would seem to 
have been ignorant, coarse, and self-sufficient, rather 
than deliberately malevolent ; and the then Lord of 
the Isle, James, tenth Earl of Derby, who had in 1703 
succeeded Earl William, the Bishop's patron, was a 
good deal like his subordinate. A. Mrs. Uenricks was 
under excommunication for gross immorality, followed 
up by contumacy She took the unheard-of step of 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 129 

appealing from the ecclesiastical authorities to the 
Governor and the Earl. Home received and enter- 
tained the appeal, in spite of island custom and ordi- 
nance to the contrary; and "thus the Governor and 
the Bishop were committed to something like mediseval 
warfare for years to come." Mrs. Henricks was pro- 
tected in goods and person from the penalties of the 
Consistory Court, and peremptory orders were issued to 
the Bishop, of course in vain, to cancel her excommunica- 
tion. This quarrel soon became complicated and aggra- 
vated by others. The Bishop had always exercised the 
power, as did Bishops in the most primitive times, of 
remitting or reducing penalties imposed by the spiritual 
courts. But as the fines levied in these courts went in 
usum Domini, Governor Home and his clique chal- 
lenged the Bishop's right in this particular as operating 
to the prejudice of the Lord. A claim was set up also 
on behalf of the Earl's retainers for exemption from 
Church censures; and the Governor took on him to 
order briefs to be read in the churches without the 
sanction of the diocesan, and went so far as even to 
deny the Bishop's authority to summon his Convoca- 
tion of Clergy at pleasure : — 

We may notice, by the way, that two at least of the points now 
mooted between the spiritual and temporal courts were in sub- 
stance the same (though on so minute a scale) with some of those 
which had divided whole nations and Churches — not to say the 
whole of Christendom — in the middle ages. The Lord's claim to 
have his household exempt from spiritual discipline corresponds 
with Henry the Second's quarrel against Becket for presuming to 
excommunicate the King's tenants. And the Bishop's summoning 
his Synod at will was the prerogative of which the other Henry, in 
the sixteenth century, showed himself so jealous, and which he so 

K 



130 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



effectually extinguished. Thus, as in so many other points, the 
annals of this small Island of Man prove to be a sort of miniature 
reflection of far # more important histories.— Vol. i. p. 46 5 - 

The quarrel proceeded through the usual stages. 
The Bishop is cited before the Governor and Council 
to answer for his alleged offences; and of course he 
refuses to appear. At length, on June 29, 1722, "his 
entry in Episcopalia is 'St. Peter's Day. See the 
Epistle'" (that is, St. Peter in prison, the Church 
praying for him, and his deliverance by an angel) : — 

" I and my two vicars were carried to prison by three soldiers for 
not paying a fine of 901., most arbitrarily imposed upon us." It 
was a day already memorable in the Bishop's calendar, as we have 
seen, for more than one special favour — the day of his entering into 
holy orders, and of the deliverance of his father and brothers from 
shipwreck. It is interesting to observe that he enters this impri- 
sonment in the list which he kept of " Special Favours," as well 
as in that of " Merciful Visitations and Chastisements." In the 
former, " I had the honour of being imprisoned for a faithful dis- 
charge of my duty." In the latter, " I and my two vicars-general 
were fined 90Z., and imprisoned in Castle Eyssin (sic) for cen- 
suring and refusing to take off the censures of certain offenders, 
which punishment and contempt I desire to receive from God, as a 
means of humbling me," &c. The joy of the confessor and the 
submission of the penitent, — were they ever more touchingly 
blended, more simply expressed ? — Vol. ii. pp. 518, 519. 

An appeal to the King in Council, though obstructed 
by Lord Derby and his officers in every possible way, 
effected at last the Bishop's release after an incarce- 
ration of nine weeks, but not until from harsh treatment 
and confinement he had lost the use of his right hand 
which he never wholly regained. The breach thus con- 
summated between the Lord of the Isle and the Bishop 
continued unabated during the governorship of Horne 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 131 

and his successor Horton, and the discipline of course 
suffered accordingly. Yet it is interesting to note that 
whilst submission to it was in great measure volun- 
tary, or at least could only be enforced by strictly spi- 
ritual sanctions, it was still very largely operative. 
Many offenders, and those not always of the humbler 
classes, yielded themselves to it, and sometimes were 
brought round to do so after lengthened periods of con- 
tumacy. Many did so when they well knew that the 
active interference of their temporal sovereign would 
be gladly afforded to support them in braving the 
Bishop's utmost displeasure, and some did so in spite of 
downright opposition and persecution from the Governor 
and the soldiery. Wilson had throughout his trials 
the hearty sympathy of his people — partly, no doubt, 
as the victim of lawless oppression from which they 
themselves suffered at times not a little; and from 
which they were liable to suffer just what the ruling 
powers thought fit to inflict ; but partly also because 
they saw in him " their faithful pastor and unwearied 
benefactor." When he was carried to prison "the 
concern of the people was so great that they assembled 
in crowds, and it was with difficulty they were re- 
strained from pulling down the Governor's house by 
the mild behaviour and persuasion of the Bishop, who 
was permitted to speak to them through a grated 
window." During his confinement, which was in the 
Keep of the Castle, " the regular prison of the island, 
a dreary dungeon where prisoners were crowded to- 
gether in dark and damp cells," "several hundreds 
assembled daily under the windows to receive his in- 

k 2 



132 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

structions;" and they showed their respect for him in 
the most acceptable way in their power by obeying his 
precepts when he could no longer enforce obedience. 
" Things went on according to the promise given to 
Israel in their festive season, ' Neither shall any man 
desire thy land, when thou shalt go to appear before 
the Lord thy God thrice in the year/ Bishop Wilson 
used to tell his friends that 'he never governed his 
diocese so well as in the time of his imprisonment ;' 
and that ' if he could have borne the confinement 
without injury to his health he would have been content 
to remain a prisoner during life, for the good of his 
flock, who were more pious and devout than at any 
other time.' " His release was a day of general jubilee 
throughout the island. The populace, restrained by the 
Bishop from spreading their clothes under his feet, were 
hardly contented with scattering flowers in his path, 
lining the road all the way from Rushen Castle to 
Bishop's Court, and making "a loud and merry noise" 
with " flutes made of the elder-tree." 

But we must not pursue the details of Wilson's epis- 
copate further. That he was eminently successful as a 
Church ruler is beyond possibility of question. Nor 
did his success arise merely from the exceptional ad- 
vantages he enjoyed in being Bishop of a small island 
diocese, exempted from the latitudinarian enactments 
to which the Church's other dioceses in his time were 
subjected. The interesting pages before us abound in 
striking proofs of the extraordinary personal ascendancy 
he acquired over his people. During his old age we 
read — 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 133 

It is related of him that a short time before his death, whilst he 
was coming down from his bed-chamber, a crowd of poor people 
were assembled in the hall waiting to receive his benediction and 
his alms, when he was overheard by them uttering the following 
ejaculation, " God be merciful to me a sinner, a vile sinner, a mise- 
rable sinner !" All his cry was for mercy. — Yol. ii. 958. 

And again, at his funeral — 

The mourners might be said to be all the inhabitants of the Isle, 
except those who were kept at home by necessity. They gathered 
from all quarters to attend him to his last home as they or their 
fathers had done thirty years before to escort him from his prison 
to his earthly home. And since from the palace to the church, a 
distance of more than a mile, there were of necessity frequent 
resting-places, at every such pause there was a contest among the 
crowd who should have the honour of carrying the precious remains 
for a few moments on their shoulders ; and such of them as were 
admitted esteemed it a peculiar honour. — Yol. ii. p. 965. 

Still more striking is the policy adopted by one of 

the Manx incumbents, some sixteen years after Wilson's 

death, when he found his people abandoning the church 

for the chapel — 

He tells his parishioners from the pulpit, " Next Sunday, good 
people, Bishop Wilson will preach here in Manx." And it is 
astonishing what multitudes it brings together, " insomuch that the 
church cannot contain them, and heard with such silent attention, 
that it quite overpowers himself, and fills his heart." And " since 
he has begun to use these divine discourses his people are returning 
fast to their parish church, and are more frequent communicants." 
—Yol. ii. p. 969. 

And yet, though thus personally honoured and be- 
loved, and though his work was taken up when it fell 
at length from his dying hands and carried on by a 
like-minded successor, Bishop Hildesley, still it is 
undeniable that the island now exhibits few tokens of 
the deep and clear religious impression which a man of 



134 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

Wilson's stamp might be expected to make. "W ithm 
a few years of Wilson's decease Wesleyanism was 
triumphant in Man. Three-fourths of the population 
caught at once the contagion of that feverish reli- 
gionism ; nor do the subsequent annals of the island 
enable us to reverse in any considerable degree the 
unfavourable judgment to which such a grave fact 
points. The Manxmen proved most pointedly that in 
spite of Wilson's energetic and lengthened labours 
amongst them, they had no real hold on Church 
doctrine and fellowship, and no prophylactic against 
sudden and utter declension from a system in which 
they had been so ably trained. After Hildesley's 
episcopate the island cooled down quickly to the 
ordinary low spiritual level of the times ; and rushed 
at once therefrom into red-hot Methodism. In spite 
of the halo of reverence which still encircles Wilson's 
memory, there is in the island he loved so well as 
little sympathy for his principles as may be found in 
Cornwall or Wales. How shall we explain the speedy 
and total disappearance of a system, so venerable and 
excellent in itself, so generally received, and so vigo- 
rously administered during three generations of Manx- 
men Y The causes of this are various, and some of 
them obvious. Wilson was not on the whole happy in 
his clergy His choice was always limited, from the 
necessity of providing men who could officiate in Manx. 
Nearly all the benefices of the island, too, were in the 
gift of the Lord ; and Earl James during his long feuds 
with the IJishop took pains to fill them on every oppor- 
tunity with men as little like the Hishop as possible. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 135 

Even his Archdeacon was Lord Derby's nominee, and 
during a great part of his struggles Archdeacon Hor- 
robin was amongst his most troublesome opponents. 
Horrobin was one of those men of whom our own days 
have plenty ; he was benevolent in instincts, excellent 
probably in intentions, but plagued with that non- 
theological cast of mind which leads a man to keep 
uttering the deadliest heresies whilst he is all the 
while blissfully unconscious of having spoken any 
thing except the most scriptural and Catholic truths. 
Then again the abolition, soon after Wilson's days, of 
the peculiar and insular exemptions, jurisdictions, and 
usages which had belonged to Man, tended no doubt to 
obliterate Wilson's work, which had found its oppor- 
tunity and force mainly in the exceptional circum- 
stances of the diocese. The emasculated ecclesiasticism 
into which the English dioceses had sunk invaded Man 
soon after the middle of the eighteenth century ; and 
"no wonder if the more earnest of the flock caught 
somewhat too eagerly at an apparent revival of the 
sort of sympathy they were longing for, though it 
came in another form and from, another quarter." Yet 
even so we can scarce think the phenomenon in ques- 
tion adequately accounted for. We are not sure that 
the records of Wilson's administration do not suggest 
the idea that the discipline was rather laid on the 
people ah extra than rooted in their personal convictions 
and interwoven with their principles. That they will- 
ingly submitted to it is clear; but was it not rather 
because Wilson imposed it than because they themselves 
understood and valued it ? They would seem to have 



136 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

been in many respects unprepared for Wilson's system, 
and therefore it took no root in them. For Church 
discipline, like personal asceticism, is no end in itself, 
nor is it wholesome ex opere operato. If it do not, 
through its severities, enlighten and stimulate the 
conscience of the penitent, it is rather apt to harden 
than to convert, and to serve to an unspiritual 
mind as a kind of substitute for real compunction. 
Wilson applied the discipline vigorously, and could by 
his authority secure outward observance of its terms. 
But he could not in person supply to the whole diocese 
that individual treatment of penitents without which 
the white sheet and the public confession are unavailing 
for spiritual health, and he had scarce any coadjutors able 
to second effectually his own efforts in this department. 
We wonder, too, whether his manifest shortcomings in 
the aesthetic and ritual sides of Churchmanship had any 
thing to do with his fleeting hold, for practical pur- 
poses, on the Manx mind. Mr. Keble has more than 
once to note the good Bishop's deficiencies in these 
particulars, which, however, are of course only the 
confessed deficiencies of his age. The churches and 
buildings Wilson was instrumental in erecting are, if 
possible, more ugly than their date would lead one to 
expect ; and there is not one symptom throughout his 
career that the clear and firm hold he himself had on 
Catholic truth, and enforced by dint of authority and 
logic on others within his reach, had any tendency to 
embody itself in reverent and rich yet sober ceremony 
and usage. And yet this element, always important to 
creatures constituted as we are, is especially so to the 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



137 



less learned and cultivated of us. The Manxmen were 
religious, but they would be a striking exception to the 
usual rule as to a somewhat rude race if their religion 
did not yearn after outward and visible expression, and 
this Wilson's system did not apparently supply. The 
faith which can sit altogether loose to external forms 
and symbols belongs only to highly cultivated intel- 
lects ; and those, too, intellects of superior power and 
originality. 

Wilson's work, so carefully set forth in these volumes, 
will make the modern Churchman often recur in his 
own mind to the question of the revival of Church 
discipline in our day and country. The speedy 
downfall of the system he set up in Man is, if fairly 
considered, no just argument against such revival. It 
may be that he used the outward appliances of the 
Church's discipline far more extensively than was war- 
ranted by the inner working of the Church's doctrine. 
The two assuredly should go hand in hand ; nay, disci- 
pline will only grow and flourish when deeply rooted 
in faith and knowledge of the doctrine. But then, on 
the other hand, sound teaching, especially in its prac- 
tical applications, loses a most powerful authentication 
and support when not pointed and vindicated, where 
necessary, by wholesome discipline. Authoritative dis- 
cipline stands to the practical life much as ritual does 
to faith ; and both discipline and ritual are important, 
indeed essential, for much the same sort of reasons ; — 
those, namely, which arise from our consisting of body 
as well as of mind. There can be no doubt that the 
question of the restoration of Church discipline is a 



l'JS CRITICAL KSSAYS. 

very urgent one. The legislative enactments of Bishop 
Wilson's days have made such restoration hard to re- 
concile with the continued union of Church and State, 
at least in its present form ; and it may be that a re- 
vision and modification of the terms of that union will 
be brought about through the endeavours of Churchmen 
to regain for the Church her ancient powers for good. 
Any how, it is plain enough that the utter abeyance of 
discipline, and the reduction of the Church's office to 
little more than one of mere good advice and remon- 
strance, is abundantly mischievous. Mr. Keble's vo- 
lumes will furnish much valuable matter for thought to 
those whose minds are turning towards these questions. 
In another particular our own days seem to be running 
into an evil opposite to that which beset Bishop Wilson's. 
It may be that a neglect of the outward guise of reli- 
gious truth was amongst the shortcomings of that good 
man, as it was unquestionably of his contemporaries. 
It may be that, had there been given him, as there often 
is not to hard, sharp, and practical intellects, a per- 
ception of the vast importance of this element, he would 
have left his mark for good more durably on the scene 
of his protracted and self-denying labours. But let us 
in our generation be sure, on the other hand, that ritual 
and ceremony will never serve as a substitute for defi- 
nite teaching of the Catholic truth in our ministers, 
intelligent apprehension of it by the people, and un- 
swerving profession of it in both. The outward trap- 
pings of Catholicity may be readily assumed by the 
spurious and counterfeit "Churches" about us which 
compass town and hamlet to make oik* proselyte. The 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 139 

collects, tlie canticles, and the liturgies of Fathers and 
Bishops may be purloined for the purposes of Salem 
Chapel. The priestly garments may, by a sort of spi- 
ritual felony, be donned by those whose very existence 
as a denomination arises out of a denial of the priestly 
office. Conventicles of ultra-gothic structure are rising 
around us in ludicrous inconsistency with the transac- 
tions which are to go on within them. If we lay an 
exclusive, or even excessive, stress on architecture and 
ritual, we rest our claims on those parts of our case which 
are most easily simulated ; and expose ourselves again 
from an opposite quarter to the danger which has been 
sometimes incurred by our Evangelical brethren, of 
making the Church so like Dissent that to the vulgar, 
ever unapt to distinguish, there seems nothing to choose 
betwixt them. Catholic truth, in combination with Ca- 
tholic ritual and circumstance, can be found in one society 
alone. Steady teaching of the one to the understanding, 
steady presentation of the other to the senses, in the 
decent moderation of the Church of England, cannot 
fail to win and keep our people within the safe fold. 



ESSAY VI. 



Life of the Might Rev. Daniel Wilson, D.D., late Lord Bishop 
of Calcutta, and Metropolitan of India. By the Rev. Josiah 
Bateman, M.A., his Son-in-Law and First Chaplain. Two Vols. 
Murray. 

Primary Charge of the Bishop of Calcutta. Calcutta : Bishop's 
College Press. 

Bishop Wilsons Journal Letters, addressed to his Family during 
the first nine Years of his Indian Episcopate. Edited by his 
Son, Daniel Wilson, Vicar of Islington. Nisbet and Co. 

The name of Daniel Wilson will call up in the minds 
of our readers reflections of a very mixed character. 
He was, and gloried in being, forward as a leader of a 
theological party within our Church ; and, as must 
always be the case with such, received in no measured 
terms censure from his adversaries, and encomium from 
his friends. Yet we are sure that few Churchmen, be 
their peculiar shade of views what it may, will fail to 
find common sympathies and common interests with 
one whose personal piety was deep and fervent, if 
somewhat wanting in breadth ; whose Churchmanship 
was sincere, honest, and even intense, though decidedly 
sectarian in tone; and whose whole conduct, with all 
its shortcomings, was full of zealous endeavour to act 
out principles which he sincerely and consistently held. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 141 

Few also will grudge a grateful acknowledgment of the 
vast services rendered to the Church by Bishop Daniel 
Wilson in one of her widest and most difficult fields of 
labour. The work which met him in India was one 
which required and stimulated the natural vehemence 
and positiveness of his character ; and, human nature 
being what it is, if Wilson had had fewer faults, he 
would have probably achieved fewer successes. He 
was not of " the singular few " — 

Who, gifted with predominating powers, 
Bear yet a temperate will. 

On the contrary, he was often arbitrary, and sometimes 
very unjust to those who differed with him. Such 
failings, however, were but the wrong side of his very 
excellences, and were far better for the Church to bear, 
especially in such a sphere as India, than the vacil- 
lation of purpose and feebleness of rule which might 
have been, while men are what they are, expected but 
too probably from a Bishop of larger intellectual gifts 
and more liberal views. The Church in India demands 
pre-eminently — at least, evidently did so when Daniel 
Wilson assumed the chief government of her— a strong 
and resolute ruler. It must not be forgotten also that 
the conflict between Christianity and heathenism dwarfs, 
in a manner exceedingly difficult for us at home ade- 
quately to realize, the controversies which agitate a 
settled Christian community. In private life we see 
those who have no natural distresses and anxieties 
sedulously manufacturing for themselves artificial ones. 
And so it is with a flourishing and a peaceful Church. 
The Church in her missionary walks cares compara- 
tively little about minor degrees and differences of opi- 



142 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

nion amongst those who are all of them her true and 
attached sons. Hence Wilson stood, we think, higher 
in the estimation of Churchmen of all kinds in India 
than he did at home. He impressed us in England, 
whether in person or through his Charges and sermons, 
chiefly in the character of a somewhat intolerant, and 
even coarse, partisan ; but the Church in India knew 
him also as the uncompromising champion of her 
rights, interests, and dignities against the civil and 
military powers, which more than once threatened 
during his Episcopate to reduce her to an entire and 
helpless dependence — as the friend whose purse was 
never spared when any of her numerous necessities 
presented itself, and whose unsparing exhortations, 
thus backed by example, produced an outflow of libe- 
rality which quite changed the aspect of her missionary 
stations — as the chief pastor, to whom, not less than 
t© his lamented predecessor, Heber, might be justly 
applied the title of " first missionary in India ; " who 
was incessantly on Visitation throughout his vast 
diocese, cheering the scattered labourers of Christ, and 
leaving behind him wherever he had passed new life 
and hope in the Churches; whose homely rebukes, if 
they sometimes lighted amiss on those whose allegiance 
to the Gospel and the Church was as genuine as the 
Bishop's own, and sometimes were directed against 
trifles which it would have been more dignified quietly 
to discountenance, were also addressed with primitive 
boldness into quarters in which they were urgently 
called for, and denounced with a holy disregard of per- 
sons and of consequences the crying sins and follies of 
the lax social system of India. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 143 

But we have, almost unawares, been speaking of 
Daniel Wilson as Bishop of Calcutta, somewhat forget- 
ting that the biography before us traces his life up to 
his very childhood. 

He sprang originally from that class which has given 
so many illustrious names to our annals, and which 
has, to say the least, exhibited its full share of those 
qualities which we are apt to think especially charac- 
teristic of our nation — vigorous independence of charac- 
ter, and capacity for rising in the world — we mean the 
class of well-to-do yeomen. His father belonged to a 
junior offshoot of a Derbyshire family of this description, 
which had settled in London, and acquired consider- 
able wealth in the Spitalfields silk trade. The future 
Bishop was apprenticed at an early age to an uncle in 
the same line of business ; and neither at school nor 
in the early days of his apprenticeship does he seem 
to have exhibited any decided promise of future emi- 
nence. He lay, indeed, for a time under the baleful 
shadow of the infidelity, and consequent looseness of 
morals, which were then (1796) fashionable, and under- 
went at eighteen years of age that metamorphosis of 
character which is known as " conversion, " and is re- 
garded by some of his school of opinion as essential : — 

One evening (he says) I was as usual engaged in wicked discourse 
with the other servants in the warehouse, and religion happening 
(humanly speaking, I mean) to be started, I was engaged very 
warmly in denying the responsibility of mankind, on the supposition 
of absolute election, and the folly of all human exertions, where 
grace was held to be irresistible. (I can scarcely proceed for wonder 
that God should have upheld me in life at the moment I was cavil- 
ling and blaspheming at His sovereignty and grace.) We have a 



144 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

young man in the warehouse whose amusement for many years has 
been entirely in conversing on the subject of religion. He was saying 
that God had appointed the end — He had also appointed the means. 
I then happened to say that I had none of those feelings towards 
God which he required and approved. "Well, then," said he, 
" pray for the feelings." I carried it off with a joke, but the words 
at the first made some impression on my mind, and thinking that 
I would still say that " I had done all I could," when I retired at 
night I began to pray for the feelings. It was not long before the 
Lord in some measure answered my prayers, and I grew very uneasy 
about my state. — Vol. i. p. 8. 

In this part of his life we shall not follow his 
biographer's somewhat tedious details. We would only- 
point to the fact that the London apprentice, from the 
above slight occasion, entered suddenly, with bitter 
penitence and humiliation for the past, and earnest 
struggles after light and grace, on that course of self- 
discipline and hard study which led him, eventually, to 
the Metropolitan throne of India. The case is remark- 
able enough ; and while we protest against the error of 
those who regard sudden conversion as all-important, 
and as the only sure warrant for Christian confidence, 
it may teach us that such spiritual revolutions, however 
sudden, are sometimes genuine and real, and that they 
may even be perhaps God's not least frequent mode of 
dealing with men. 

It is not surprising that in this frame of mind 
a desire should soon have manifested itself towards 
holy orders. After some difficulties with his parents, 
who very properly required some evidences of stability 
in his purposes before approving of them, he was at 
last permitted to prepare himself for Oxford, and was 
matriculated at St. Edmund Hall in 1798. He had 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 145 

many difficulties to contend with. His father allowed 
him but a hundred guineas per annum for his college 
expenses ; which, however, he contrived to make suffice. 
The college records show that his battels averaged 
about 8s. per week. " Not once," says his biographer, 
"does the word debt appear directly or indirectly in 
his letters or journal." He was very backward in 
classical learning, but soon repaired this deficiency by 
determined diligence, supported by his robust health. 
Rising at half-past five in the morning, he allowed 
himself but one hour in the day for exercise, and passed 
for the six years of his student life about twelve hours 
of every day in hard study. The state of religion in 
the University at that time would seem to have been 
deplorable indeed. Mr. Bateman gives an illustration 
which speaks volumes : — 

A most accomplished member of St. John's, an excellent scholar, 
and one who was deemed a model of an undergraduate of those days, 
not only never read his Bible, but did not possess one. Being re- 
monstrated with by a friend, his rejoinder was, " How can I help 
it ? Do you think that I could by any possibility go into Parker's 
shop and ask for a Bible?" — Vol. i. p. 50. 

In such a society those who made any profession of 
religion were marked men ; and Wilson, with a circle 
of like-minded friends at the Hall — some of whom have 
since been widely known in the Church (as, e. g., Dr. 
Marsh, Archdeacon Spooner, and Dean Pearson, of 
Salisbury) — acted up to all the observances of the 
" most straitest sect " of Evangelicalism. This part of 
his biography records meetings for prayer, reading of 
Scripture, mutual exhortation, &c. ; and we find him 

L 



14G CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

on one occasion sorely wounded in conscience because 
he had "sat an hour at tea, and did not introduce 
spiritual discourse." The opportunities of demonstrat- 
ing their acquirements then afforded by the University 
to undergraduates were but few. There were no 
" Honours," and the Examination for decrees was little 
better than a form, if not a farce. But Wilson gained 
one of the University prizes, the English Essay, finding 
a congenial subject in "Common Sense." It is in- 
teresting to recall the fact that when he had recited 
his Prize Essay at the Commemoration he was followed 
on the rostrum by Heber, who that year gained the 
prize for his English poem on "Palestine." Wilson 
was ordained in 1801, and served for nearly two years 
as curate at Chobham, in Surrey, under the well- 
known Richard Cecil. He was not, however, forgotten 
at Oxford ; and in 1803 he returned to the University 
as Vice-Principal of St. Edmund Hall. His promotion 
was speedily followed by his marriage. This con- 
nexion proved in every way a fortunate one. Daniel 
Wilson, though by no means what is called a domestic 
character, would seem to have had a large share of 
domestic blessings showered on his path. His father- 
in-law bought in 1801, for 5000/., and bequeathed to 
him, the living of Islington. This valuable piece of 
ecclesiastical property still remains in the family, and 
metropolitan Churchmen can testify that the spirit of 
the Bishop still governs the exercise of the rights per- 
taining to it. 

Wilson's tenure of office at Oxford lasted for more 
than eight years. There is little of general interest 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 147 

in what is narrated of it. He discharged his aca- 
demical duties with his accustomed energy, and the 
Hall throve under his management. The characteristics 
which marked his rule in a larger sphere are dis- 
cernible enough in his government of the little Hall 
at Oxford. " He was very strict in the enforcement of 
University regulations upon others, and in the observ- 
ance of them himself. He was almost the last man 
who wore bands, and thus obtained for himself the 
sobriquet of ' Bands Wilson.' " Notwithstanding his 
"donnishness," he cultivated social intercourse with 
his pupils, and introduced those " religious tea-parties " 
so long associated in Oxford with St. Edmund Hall. 
These triste festivities, as our Oxford readers of some 
little standing will be well aware, survived by many 
years Wilson's connexion with Oxford; and, indeed, 
still perhaps flourish in one or two congenial quarters 
of the University, though we suspect that their native 
place now knows them no more, — or has them, if at 
all, in a theological spirit far other than that of Daniel 
Wilson. 

In 1809 Wilson was selected by Cecil as his suc- 
cessor at Bedford Chapel. This place of worship oc- 
cupied a conspicuous position in London for many 
years as one of the strongholds of the Evangelical party 
in our Church. Its origin and destruction are worth 
recording : — 

St. John's Chapel was built in the reign of Queen Anne and the 
days of Dr. Sacheverel. It stood upon ground belonging to the 
trustees of Rugby School, and within the boundaries of the parish 
of St. Andrew's, Holborn. The tradition is, that the Queen, looking 

L 2 



148 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

favourably on Dr. Sacheverel, and desirous of promoting him, sent for 
the patron of the rectory of St. Andrew's, which was then vacant, 
in order to express her wish that the Doctor should be appointed 
rector. The presentation belonged to the noble family of Montagu, 
now merged, by the marriage of the heiress, in the Dukedom of 
Buccleuch and Queensbury. Some intimation of the Queen's pur- 
pose having transpired, a " clerk " was selected, and duly appointed, 
before her Majesty's summons was obeyed, and her wish expressed ; 
and then with courteous words the impossibility of compliance was 
pleaded. Queen Anne, however, was not to be so baffled. The 
newly appointed rector was made a bishop. This not only vacated 
the living, but placed the next appointment at the disposal of the 
Crown. It was instantly conferred upon Dr. Sacheverel, and he 
lived and died rector of St. Andrew's. Some of the citizens were 
greatly offended at the appointment, and, as a safety-valve against 
the pressure of High Church doctrines, combined, and built St. 
John's Chapel in Bedford-row. If this was indeed its mission, it 
has been accomplished; and now the place which once knew it, 
knows it no more. 

One Thursday evening in November, 1856, when the verger was 
about to ring the bell and summon the congregation for the usual 
week-day evening service, he could produce no sound. Still many 
ivere assembled, and divine service proceeded : but when the minister 
ascended the pulpit, he perceived, from signs not to be mistaken, 
that the whole of the immense and massive roof had shifted and 
sunk, and might at any instant crush him and the whole congrega- 
tion. A very short sermon naturally, and most wisely, followed 
this discovery : and that was the last sermon preached in a chapel 
where the truth as it is in Jesus had been so long and so faithfully 
held forth by a succession of able and pious ministers. — Vol. i. pp. 
171, 172. 

Proprietary chapels involve many very unsatisfactory 
principles. Often they are, as was the one before us, 
the fruits of party feeling, and they very obviously 
tend to perpetuate it. They have helped to loosen the 
ties between parishioners and their parish church, and 
so to bring about that disorganization of the parochial 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 149 

system which unhappily exists in our large towns. 
Their multiplication has served as a sort of substitute 
for that subdivision of our enormous metropolitan 
parishes, and increase of parish churches, which are 
the proper and only adequate remedies for the spiritual 
destitution of London, or of any other large town. We 
have too often built proprietary chapels, and excused 
ourselves from the efforts necessary to do the Church's 
work in the Church's way. Very properly are they 
called chapels rather than churches ; for their ministers 
are rather preachers than pastors. Their audiences 
consist simply of the renters of pews, bound to their 
ministers by no tie except mere preference — i. e. their 
arrangements are substantially and in principle those 
of Dissent. Doubtless, however, they have had the re- 
luctant approval of our Bishops as the only means at 
hand, though not the best, of meeting the difficulties 
by which we are surrounded; and Wilson's manage- 
ment of St. John's proves that large opportunities of 
ministerial usefulness may be found even under the 
unfavourable circumstances which surround a proprie- 
tary chapel. One fact deserves to be repeated here, to 
the credit of Wilson's churchmanship. He was suc- 
ceeded, not immediately, but while the congregation 
remained in substance as Wilson had made and left it, by 
Mr. Baptist Noel. Notwithstanding the popularity and 
influence which Mr. Noel enjoyed, he was followed in 
his secession from the Church by not more than twenty 
of the congregation of St. John's. 

Though Wilson had no parochial charge, there was a 
good deal of machinery of various kinds attached to 



150 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

the chapel. There were, amongst other things, large 
Sunday-schools conducted by members of the congre- 
gation; and the first District Visiting Society was 
established, we are told, in connexion with it. He 
took charge of the candidates for Confirmation fur- 
nished by families attending on his ministry, and on 
one occasion presented to the Bishop no less than 375 
of them. He took a leading part in the formation of 
the Lord's Day Observance Society and the Church 
Missionary Society, and an active share in the manage- 
ment of most other similar bodies in the metropolis. 
The collections made for charitable purposes during his 
ministry at the proprietary chapel were extraordinary, 
often exceeding 200/. on a single occasion. Above all, 
his connexion with the "Clapham Sect" was there 
consolidated, and the way thus paved for his subsequent 
advancement : — 

Amongst the regular attendants were John Thornton and his 
sons — names suggestive of singular goodness and beneficence. 
There sat Charles Grant with his family, and two distinguished 
sons, the one, afterwards as Lord Glenelg, President of the Board of 
Control, and Secretary of State for the Colonies ; the other as Sir 
Kobert Grant, Governor of Bombay. There also sat Zachary Ma- 
caulay, accompanied by his son, the legislative counsellor of India 
and historian of England ; ennobling literature, and now ennobled 
by it. Dr. Mason Good was there ; a physician of high repute, the 
master of seventeen languages, and translator of the Psalms and 
the Book of Job, who from a disciple of Belsham, was now " sitting 
at the feet of Jesus." Near him might be seen Mr. Stephen and 
his family, Mr. Cardale, Mr. Bainbridge, Mr. Wigg, Mr. Charles 
Bridges, and many others of high repute and piety. Lawyers of 
note, also, who afterwards adorned the bench, were pew-holders in 
St. John's. The good Bishop Ryder often attended, and Lord Cal- 
thorpe, Mr. Bowdler, the li facile prinreps," as he was termed, of 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 151 

the rising barristers of his day, and Sir Digby Mackworth. Mr. 
Wilberforce was frequently present, with his son Samuel, " to take 
care of him." The late Duchess of Beaufort, also, often sought to 
hear him, with many members of her family. Individuals of every 
" sort and condition " were thus assembled — high and low, rich and 
poor, one with another. Thirty or forty carriages might often be 
counted during the London season, standing in triple rows about 
the doors ; and though there was, as is too often unhappily the case 
in proprietary chapels, but scant accommodation for the poor, yet 
they loved to attend, and every vacant sitting-place was filled by 
them the moment the doors were opened. — Yol. i. p. 178. 

It is this part of his life which gives the highest idea 

of Wilson's powers. His health was unimpaired ; his 

industry inexhaustible; his personal influence great, 

and unsparingly exercised ; his pulpit eloquence at its 

zenith : — 

Those who have known him in the decline of life, or those even 
who have only known him in Islington, have no idea of his power 
in the pulpit of St. John's. In the decline of life peculiarities 
often crept into his discourses ; and in Islington local and parochial 
matters were frequently introduced : there was nothing of the kind 
at St. John's. There was a seriousness in his manner, before which 
levity shrank abashed; an occasional vehemence, which swept all 
obstacles before it ; a pathos and a tenderness which opened in a 
moment the fountain of tears ; and a command which silenced for a 
time the mutterings of unbelief. 

His literary labours, his journeys on behalf of various 
societies, and the controversies in which, during these 
years, as, indeed, throughout his life, he was hotly 
engaged, we must not dwell upon. In 1824 he under- 
went a very severe and tedious illness, and on his 
recovery found himself, by the death of the incumbent, 
in possession of the family preferment of Islington. 
We must pass over the eight years he spent there very 
briefly. The parish had been in the care of a "fine 



152 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

specimen of the old school of divines," but was, as Mr. 
Bateman considers, " asleep." It was soon thoroughly 
stirred by Wilson's restless energy; and after con- 
siderable agitation, and some resistance, subsided and 
stiffened down into the decided Evangelical contour 
which its uncompromising vicar was resolved it should 
wear. "Religion became prominent," observes Mr. 
Bateman, "and worldliness drew back complaining 
and murmuring — 'There is no such thing as getting 
a comfortable game at cards now, as in Dr. Strahan's 
time/ " In one respect all will admit his merits. No 
sooner had he entered on his new charge than, finding 
the one church there was in Islington wholly inade- 
quate to the wants of the population, he at once set 
himself to work, and during the first years of his 
incumbency built three new churches, obtaining for 
them from one source or another no less than 35,000/. 
% His connexion with India commenced in a somewhat 
curious manner. Turner, the fourth Bishop of Cal- 
cutta, visited Islington on his appointment in 1829, and 
requested suggestions from Wilson, as an experienced 
and devoted clergyman, respecting his duties in India. 
Wilson's thoughts were thus turned towards the East. 
On Bishop Turner's death, but a few months after he 
had reached his diocese, Wilson manifested great anxiety 
to secure the appointment of a good successor, and 
corresponded on the subject with his friend Charles 
Grant, then President of the Board of Control. The 
bishopric was offered to several eminent clergymen, 
and by them declined. Wilson at last, after various 
other suggestions, took the singular and characteristic 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 153 

step of offering himself, and, after some delay and 
difficulty, was appointed in 1832. He found Church 
matters in his immense diocese either in utter confusion, 
or in the less complicated but even less satisfactory con- 
dition of simple non-existence. Wilson's two imme- 
diate predecessors had occupied the see but a few 
months — we might almost say weeks — each ; and before 
them the lamented Heber, who succeeded Middleton, 
the first Bishop, not much longer. The diocese itself 
comprised the enormous territory now divided amongst 
no less than sixteen Indian, Australian, and Polynesian 
Episcopates. No wonder that the establishment of the 
bishopric had " not been attended with its full effects." 
The vast palace at Calcutta, provided by the Govern- 
ment, was a blank. "When the Bishop arrived he 
found just so many chairs and tables ordered in from 
the bazaar as sufficed to make the noble rooms look 
miserable. ' Why is this ? ' he asked of Archdeacon 
Corrie, to whom he had written from England, re- 
questing him, without limit, to provide such things as 
were needful. <I thought, my lord, that there was 
enough to last for six months/ was the reply of the 
Archdeacon. He had acted with all simplicity, on the 
impression produced by past sad experience, and had 
not admitted the idea that life would be prolonged 
more than six months." Wilson was the very man to 
bring all this into order. The palace was at once 
"completely and handsomely" furnished. The sixty 
or seventy servants " designated by a simple and ap- 
propriate livery." The " silver sticks appertaining to 
his rank, and left by his predecessors, were put into 



151 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

the hands of his Ilurkaru and Chobdar, and generally 
used." And the Bishop was not less zealous in taking 
on himself his spiritual authority than in surrounding 
himself with the "pomp and circumstance" of it. The 
times, indeed, were against him. In those days (1832) 
the whole constitutional status of our Bishops was 
threatened. The enemies of the Church were bold ; 
her friends were timid. Prime Ministers were bidding 
the Bishops set their house in order. It was not a 
period when a Bishop of Calcutta might expect to 
receive much consideration, or to meet with support 
either from Government or public opinion in making 
the authority of his office felt. But all this did not 
deter Wilson. No sooner had he landed than he found 
himself involved in a question of jurisdiction with the 
Presidency chaplains, who refused to recognize the 
Bishop's authority in his own cathedral. The clergy 
had been used to act independently, and to look to 
Government for guidance and indulgence. " They had 
yet," says Mr. Bateman, " to find they had a Bishop." 
This lesson they were soon taught. The chaplains were 
in no sense incumbents, but merely stipendiaries acting 
under the authority of Government, and by the Bishop's 
licence, and were consequently removable from place 
to place at a moment's notice. The cancelling of the 
licence was an obvious step ; it was without hesitation 
taken by Wilson, and at once left the rebellious chap- 
lains without powers, and entirely hors de combat. On 
his jurisdiction being admitted, the Bishop, having 
thoroughly vindicated his office, restored the chaplains 
to their functions. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



155 



We must not follow him through the various matters 
which he had to contest with the Indian authorities, or 
with his refractory clergy. He was generally, if not 
always, right in his claims; and, judging from the 
success which attended him, not injudicious in pro- 
secuting them. It is amusing enough to find Daniel 
Wilsoij having to defend himself to his friends, as his 
correspondence shows he had to do, against charges of 
extreme Churchmanship ! Yet such allegations were 
not made without what must have seemed, to those who 
advanced them, strong semblance of reason. He issued 
a general circular, prohibiting the chaplains and mis- 
sionaries from taking part in Divine service with 
ministers of other denominations. He showed great 
anxiety to give the churches in his diocese an eccle- 
siastical character, taking pleasure to see them provided 
with chancels, spires, &c, and contributing liberally 
himself towards such purposes. His reflections on the 
plan, which by noble self-sacrifice he at length found 
the means to carry out, for building the new cathedral 
at Calcutta, are worthy of note, as is also his description 
of the consecration : — 

I figured to myself my beautiful spire, rising up two hundred and 
twenty feet — the fine deeply buttressed Gothic nave, chancel, and 
transepts, marking the massive grandeur of the Christian religion — 
the magnificent organ sounding out, " Thou art the King of Glory, 
O Christ" — my native presbyters, in their snow-white vestures, 
walking down the aisles, the Christian neophytes responding in the 
choir — and Jesus acknowledged as the Lord of all. As I 

drove to the cathedral at ten o'clock, the whole space around it was 
filled with carriages of all descriptions in the most picturesque 
groups. The clergy and laity were waiting my arrival, surrounded 
with multitudes of spectators. I made my way through them with 



156 CRITICAL ESSAY8. 

verger and pastoral staff; and then proceeded up the middle aisle to 
the communion-rails. The petition for consecration was then read. 
I assented ; and th#n the procession began, repeating as usual the 
twenty-fourth Psalm. The other forms having been gone through, 
the morning service commepced, the organ leading superbly in the 
chants. Colonel Forbes was sitting near me. I turned to him and 
said, " How beautifully the voice is heard ! " When I ascended the 
pulpit, there was all around me a sea of heads reaching to the door- 
way and outer steps. At the Communion, the thirty-fi^e clergy 
kneeling at the rails, and the five ministering within, presented to 
my mind an overwhelming sight. — Vol. ii. p. 172. 

These things, however, though we fear some of our 
brother Churchmen might have taken fright at them 
if ventured upon by any High Church Bishop at home, 
were surpassed by the Bishop's letter to the Govern- 
ment, on its being proposed to permit the various sects 
of Christians in India to be married by their own 
ministers. Although Mr. Bateman does not give this 
document, we remember to have seen it quoted in a 
very trustworthy and independent book, Mr. G. Camp- 
bell's Modern India ; from which we give our readers 
the benefit of an extract, containing words of the 
Bishop's own : — 

The ecclesiastical establishments of the Government are solely 
for the benefit of its own Christian servants, and certainly are not 
chargeable with any attempt to proselytize ; but that their head has 
a sufficiently strong opinion of the position and privileges of an 
Establishment may be judged from a letter publicly addressed by 
the present Bishop of Calcutta to Government in this nineteenth 
century, when it was proposed to permit the various sects of Chris- 
tians in India to be married by their own ministers, and he expressed 
his fear of the result "if a person calling himself a Dissenting 
minister is now, for the first time since England was a Christian 
nation, to stand in the place of the priest in holy orders, with the 
authority of a Divine commission derived through successive conse- 
crations and ordinations from the apostolic ages." — P. 208. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 157 

We commend these sentiments of a thoroughly Evan- 
gelical Bishop to the consideration of those Churchmen 
amongst ourselves who especially look up to him as an 
authority. Such opinions we believe to have been 
general amongst those excellent men whom Wilson 
especially followed and revered; and it is worth the 
consideration of those who now repudiate them, whether 
they are doing so upon conscientious and deliberate 
conviction, or whether they may not, in the heat of 
controversy, and in the recoil from dangerous extremes, 
have come somewhat short of the right standard of 
Churchmanship, as they unquestionably do of the 
measure of it set by such men as Wilson. For we think 
that no candid reader of this biography would fail to 
mark the difference between his " Evangelicalism," and 
much that is now current as such. The former had its 
peculiarities, of course — its Shibboleths — as every school 
of opinion will always have, and many of them were odd 
and arbitrary enough ; — but it was, after all, something 
of larger sympathies, more decidedly Church instincts, 
more generous, more liberal-minded, than a large sec- 
tion of that which now claims the same name. It has 
been often said that Simeon, Cecil, Wilberforce, and 
others would have been High Churchmen had their 
minds been formed within the last thirty years. The 
assertion is one which does not admit of proof; yet 
certainly, when they are claimed by some of our con- 
temporaries as their fathers in the faith, the legitimacy 
of the descent seems sometimes very questionable. 

Not the least interesting of Wilson's ecclesiastical 
conflicts was the one he had with the Church Missionary 



158 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

Society. The missionaries of that Society had indeed 
officiated in India since Heber's time with the Bishop's 
licence; but his authority over them was uncertain 
and undefined. "Wilson soon found that their Society 
was setting up in his diocese a spiritual imperium in 
imperio, and keeping it moreover in lay hands. Mr. 
Bateman's account of the quarrel, which lasted for 
three years, and threatened at one time to lead to the 
secession of the Bishop and his friends from the Society, 
is not of the clearest. He passes over this ugly and 
inconvenient chapter in the history of the great Evan- 
gelical missionary institution as smoothly as may be ; 
but the general nature of the points at issue can be 
tolerably well made out. The Society expected the 
Bishop to license its nominees as a matter of course, 
without question asked or reason given ; thus reducing 
his functions to a mere form. The Corresponding Com- 
mittee at Calcutta actually went so far as to set the 
Episcopal office entirely at nought, and to appoint mis- 
sionaries without the recognition of the Bishop at all ! 
Not satisfied with this, the Society denied to the Bishop 
all power of Visitation as regards its missions, and all 
jurisdiction over its stipendiaries in India ! The remark 
of Archdeacon Corrie, as regards the men under whose 
influence these pretensions were put forward, is weighty, 
and has a wide application: — "When an object spi- 
ritually good in their view comes before them, they 
care little whether it be attained by the rules of the 
Church of England, or by any other." At length, by 
the mediation of friends, the breach was healed. The 
point of superintendence was conceded to the Bishop, 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 159 

and that of licensing compromised. The rule of the 
Society on the latter point now appears to be to submit 
its ordained Missionaries for licence to the Bishop of 
the Diocese in which they may be stationed, and then, 
in Bishop Wilson's own words, " the Bishop expresses 
by granting or withholding his licence, in which the 
sphere of the missionary's labour is mentioned — his 
approbation or otherwise of that location." Certainly 
the terms of the concordat are by no means too favour- 
able to the Episcopal power. It would seem that the 
Society still possesses, though it do not exercise, the 
power of stationing its servants in any part of a colonial 
diocese it may think proper. 

Mr. Bateman's narrative of the seven Visitations 
accomplished by the Bishop during his long Episcopate 
is in parts most interesting ; especially so that of the 
first Visitation, on which the writer attended on the 
Bishop as chaplain. The gorgeousness and luxuriance 
of the tropical scenery, and the strangeness of the men 
and the manners he encountered, warm Mr. Bateman's 
naturally somewhat stiff and bald style of writing into 
eloquence ; and the incidents of this first Visitation are 
given with a freshness and vivacity which is wholly 
wanting in most parts of the work. One incident 
which befell the Bishop is sufficiently amusing : — 

Hurry Holkar held a Durbar to receive the Bishop with due 
honour. A little before sunset the party proceeded to the town 
and palace, on five huge elephants, covered with most gorgeous 
trappings, which had been sent for them. Swarms of Mahratta 
cavalry were in attendance, commanded by one of Holkar 's sons. 
The procession was characterized by all sorts of frantic demonstra- 
tions — the shouts of the people, the galloping of horses, firing of 



160 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

pistols, and clouds of dust. The armed camels formed a striking 
feature in it. On the back of each a swivel gun is mounted, and 
when calm they n\arch in ranks. But now, whether partaking of 
the excitement, or frightened at it, they defied alike their riders and 
their nosebits, and were galloping wildly over the plain. A gallop- 
ing camel is a strange sight. In vain the rider pulls back the 
head and lays it on the hump ; the animal still pursues his headlong, 
or rather headless, career. Nothing brings him to his senses but 
fierce blows upon the nostrils thus brought within the reach of the 
rider. Long avenues led into the town. Wild peacocks were 
grouped upon the trees, and hunting leopards chained to many 
of the doors ; the populace poured out into streets straight and wide, 
from houses handsome and well built, by thousands and tens of 
thousands. At length the palace was reached, and at the top of a 
narrow and somewhat shabby staircase Holkar received his guests, 
shook hands, and led them to the Durbar. In this case no seats 
were provided, and all were obliged to sit as best they could. 
Conversation was rapid, and was enlivened, but not interrupted, 
by music and dancing. In about half an hour all rose to leave. 
Then followed the bedizenment with flowery wreaths around the 
head, neck, and wrists, which was smiled at and submitted to, as a 
matter of etiquette. But the Bishop winced when Holkar rubbed a 
whole handful of oily attar over the front of his best dress-coat, and 
was evidently in despair when the anointing was followed by a 
shower of rose-water. In vain he afterwards rubbed, and was 
rubbed ; the visit to Holkar cost him a suit of clothes. The Vizier 
was more merciful to his suite, and a little persuasion averted the 
compliment. But all alike bore off the wreaths of flowers, and, on 
arriving at the Residency, presented any thing but a clerical 
appearance. — Vol. ii. pp. 93, 94. 

Mr. Bateman's narrative, especially in this part of 
it, is aptly supplemented by the recent publication of a 
large selection from the Bishop's letters. Those letters 
only have been given which had not been already 
quoted in the biography. They were thrown off rapidly 
as events occurred ; and addressed as they were to 
members of his family, they convey with no little 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 161 

freedom and vigour his first fresh, impressions of India 
and Missionary work during the earlier days of his 
episcopate. 

The vastness of the territories assigned to the super- 
intendence of Wilson is strikingly displayed by the 
summary given of this Visitation : — 

And thus ended the longest Visitation, perhaps, on record. The 
outlines of British India had been well-nigh traced. The confines 
of Burmah, China, Thibet, Caubul, had been nearly touched. The 
Ganges, Sutlej, Brahmapootra, Cavery, and Nerbudda rivers had 
been crossed or navigated. Commenced on August 25th, 1834, it 
concluded (with two intervals rendered necessary by the climate) on 
March 14th, 1837. Two years and a half were thus occupied, and 
more than thirteen thousand miles traversed by sea and land. — Vol. 
ii. p. 138. 

The Episcqpate in India is beset with other difficulties 
than those arising from climate and extent of territory. 
Some of these are common to all, or nearly all, mission- 
ary work amongst the heathen — e. g. those arising from 
polygamy ; but there are others peculiar to India. Not 
the least is caused by the system of caste, against the 
retention of which amongst the converts Wilson first 
made a decided stand. The social institutions of India 
are a highly organized scheme, which has for ages been 
inwrought into the daily life of 150 millions of civilized 
people ; and caste is the very basis of them all. The 
demand first peremptorily insisted on by Wilson that 
caste should be utterly renounced in the native Churches 
is undoubtedly a serious — humanly speaking, a fatal — 
obstacle to the success of missionary work in India. 
It places Christianity at an enormous disadvantage — 
far greater than any it would seem ever to have had to 

M 



162 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

surmount elsewhere. In primitive times nothing is more 
noteworthy than the care and judgment with which the 
new doctrine was withheld from direct intermeddling 
with the institutions, whether social or domestic, of the 
society into which it was introduced — however alien 
those institutions might be from its spirit — as, for 
instance, slavery was. What was faulty was left to be 
abolished or ameliorated spontaneously by the new mo- 
tives which Christianity brought with it. And thus 
was the heathen world renewed and transfigured, it 
knew not how, until it had by unmarked degrees grown 
into the holier and kindlier life of a Christian people. 
It must be henceforward far otherwise in India. Chris- 
tianity has declared internecine war against the whole 
social and domestic framework of native life. Every 
convert must in a manner embrace " counsels of per- 
fection ;" he must forsake " his father and his mother, 
and all that he has," before he can be received as a 
disciple at all! The chapter which records Bishop 
Daniel Wilson's visit to the mission stations of Southern 
India, where the caste system had been permitted to 
take root, and to establish itself, is most exciting. The 
Bishop was resolute ; and in spite of opposition, which 
even threatened his personal safety, he assailed the 
mischief dauntlessly as usual, purged the Churches of 
it, and left them diminished in number, but settled on 
a better and a sounder basis. For we believe that no 
alternative was left him. The caste system is not 
merely social ; it must not be compared, as it often is, 
to the different ranks and degrees of society. It is 
rooted deep in the first principles of Hindooism, and its 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 163 

ramifications, its obligations, and its symbolism are 
religious throughout. "We believe that the Apostles 
would no more have tolerated it than they would the 
partaking of an idol sacrifice, or the observance of 
heathen religious festivals. In India its retention was 
found, indeed, to facilitate the coming over of the na- 
tives to Christianity, but to afford, on the other hand, 
only too successfully, temptations to apostasy. It was 
eating out, not the vigour of spiritual life, but the very 
existence of it in the native Churches ; and Wilson's 
determined measures with it, while they have, doubt- 
less, retarded the general ingathering of the millions of 
India into the Church of Christ, have at all events 
secured that that conversion, when it is at last granted 
to the prayers' of Christendom, will be a real and 
thorough one. 

It is time that we should say something of the 
manner in which Mr. Bateman has discharged himself 
of his undertaking. Due allowance must be made for 
the partiality of a near and attached connexion, and 
when this is done, there will not be much left to 
complain of. In general the reader is left to form 
his own judgment. The countless letters of the Bishop 
which yet remain, his journals, his sayings and doings, 
form the staple of the book ; and Mr. Bateman has 
supplied connecting matter, on the whole, of no very 
considerable amount. This is sometimes awkwardly 
put together, and consists largely of that bizarre mosaic 
of Scripture phrases in which some Evangelical writers 
think it pious and respectful to speak of one another, 
and which, if ever appropriate, certainly is so for em- 

m 2 



164 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

balming the memory of Daniel Wilson, who rejoiced 
in it as much as one of Sir Walter Scott's Puritans or 
Covenanters. To those whose religious life was quick- 
ened by Daniel Wilson's fervid piety, and to the wide 
circle which knew him personally as Bishop, adviser, or 
friend, the laborious and lengthy memoir before us will 
not seem tedious. But the general public will wish 
Mr. Bateman's extracts had been fewer, and the whole 
work condensed into half its present bulk. Yet those 
who read it — and every one may well do so who desires 
to know how a deeply sincere Christian man should 
live, and a devoted missionary Bishop labour — will not 
close it without sharing in some degree the author's 
respect and affection for the man whose life is thus 
thoroughly laid open. Wilson's Episcopate was not, 
indeed, very successful in a missionary point of view. 
But he has, partly from the length of time he was 
enabled to give to the work, but not less from his 
untiring zeal, his decision of character, his firm mainte- 
nance of the rights of the Church, and his attachment 
to ecclesiastical order and discipline, done for the future 
of Christianity in India more than any one other indi- 
vidual. To him belongs the chief credit of the sub- 
division of his immense diocese, and the erection of 
Calcutta into a Metropolitan see — a precedent which 
has since been advantageously followed in South Africa 
and Australia. Out of his large fortune, and the in- 
come of 5000/. a year which he received from the 
bishopric, he left behind him only 6000/. in all : his 
cathedral, his churches, his societies, his charities, had 
absorbed the rest. To him, more than to any other 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 165 

individual, belongs the credit of having laid widely 
and deeply the main foundations of that goodly branch 
of the true Church of Christ in India, the fabric of 
which we look to those who follow him to rear. "Well 
does he deserve the eulogium pronounced upon him by 
his successor in his clear-headed and sensible Primary 
Charge : — 

Whatever could be done by consistent piety and princely muni- 
ficence, that Daniel Wilson did for his diocese. This cathedral in 
which we are assembled to-day, with the missions and schools con- 
nected with it, the Additional Clergy and Church Building Societies 
(of which the latter has contributed to the erection of sixty-six 
churches), owe their origin entirely to his energy, and in a great 
degree to his unfailing liberality. Still more may we rejoice in the 
thought that for nearly twenty-six years this diocese enjoyed the 
benefit of his firm but gentle and eminently practical wisdom, his 
missionary zeal and Christian goodness. They rest from their 
labours, and their works do follow them ; while we must unite 
together in the prayer and the effort that we may not be unworthy 
of those who have gone before us, but may do our part in carrying 
on the great work which they have left unfinished. 



ESSAY VII. 



Calvin; his Life, Labours, and Writings. Translated from the 
French of Felix Bungenee. T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh. 

The Beformation in Europe in the Time of Calvin. By Dr. 
D'Aubigne. Vols. I. and II. Longmans. 

Institutes of the Christian Religion. By John Calvin. A New 
Translation by Heney Bevebidge, Esq. Two Vols. T. and 
T. Clark, Edinburgh. 

A great revolution will be found to comprise a period 
of destruction and an after-period of reconstruction; 
and each period will exhibit its master-minds and its 
leaders of men. That most momentous of all revolu- 
tions, or, to speak more correctly, that great series of 
revolutions, which we roughly speak of as " the Refor- 
mation/* went of course through these two phases. 
To the first and earlier epoch belongs — in the Church 
of Germany, Luther ; in that of Switzerland, Zuingle : 
to the latter epoch must be assigned Melancthon and 
Calvin, and Calvin pre-eminently. 

A German thinker would easily philosophize the rela- 
tions of these Protestant chiefs differently, though hardly 
inconsistently. Those relations have, for instance, been 
laid out, so to speak, on the platform of human nature 
itself; as if religion might be described as springing 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 167 

out of the conscience, mounting next to the under- 
standing, and reaching finally outwards into the life 
and habits, and through them into the connexion and 
intercourse of man with man. Viewing the matter 
thus, we might describe it as Luther's mission to rouse 
the conscience, and to guide men into the right path of 
peace ; Zuingle's, to vindicate by appeal to reason and 
Scripture the Reformed doctrine, which would hinge, 
considered as against Romanism, on the tenet of justi- 
fication by faith only ; Calvin's, to renovate and regu- 
late the life and conversation of the Christian professor, 
and to organize him with his fellows into a community 
which should stedfastly reproduce, socially and poli- 
tically, what the Gospel of the Reformation had aimed 
to make him individually. 

Such theories will not bear being pushed too far. 
Nevertheless they have a considerable modicum of veri- 
similitude about them, and serve conveniently to col- 
ligate and group the facts of the history. Calvin's 
work, whether in theology or ecclesiology, whether in 
doctrine or discipline, was a work of systematizing, 
development, and consolidation. It is not too much 
to say that he first gave a scientific existence to Pro- 
testant theology on the Continent; enabled the ad- 
herents of the Reformed Faith to realize distinctly and 
to formulate what they professed ; and to stand before 
the world not merely in a negative and polemical cha- 
racter, but with a definite, compact, and logical system 
of belief, practice, and discipline. We do not mean 
that Calvin's organization of Continental Protestantism 
either proceeded altogether on right principles, or took 



168 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

in no weak and false elements; much less can we 
endorse the absolute and exclusive claims made for his 
system by its author ; and to English notions and ways 
Calvinism is assuredly but little congenial. But limit- 
ing our view to the Continental Reformation, and 
stating facts without reference to their attributes, the 
theory as to the relations of the great Reformers and 
their several labours may well stand in its main outlines 
as above indicated. 

There is little in the life of Calvin of a striking and 
dramatic character, so far as outward events are con- 
cerned. He was born at Noyon, in Picardy, in the 
year 1509, the year of Henry VIII/s accession to the 
throne of England. His father, Gerard Chauvin or 
Cauvin, — a name latinized after the manner of the time 
when the son became famous into Calvinus, — bad become 
" apostolic notary, fiscal attorney of the county, proctor 
of the chapter, and secretary of the bishop, functions 
which were more honourable it appears than lucrative, 
especially for a man burdened with a numerous family. 
Gerard was favourably regarded by the nobility, by 
the clergy, and above all by the bishop, Charles de 
Hangest." Bungener, p. 6. The father's opportunities 
pointed clearly enough to the vocation which should 
be chosen for some part at least of his family John, 
always remarkable for the gravity and seriousness of his 
demeanour, was naturally destined for the Church. Gerard 
Chauvin accordingly availed himself of his favour with 
the nobility to procure for his son education along with 
the children of the noble house of Mommor. Finding 
the expense heavy, Gerard Calvin procured from the 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



169 



bishop for the boy, then twelve years old, "a small 
office which happened to be vacant, that of chaplain to 
the chapel called the Gesine." An expedient of this 
kind was not uncommon in those days, and it is note- 
worthy as illustrating the abuses which had crept over 
the Church. Some years afterwards the father pro- 
cured for Calvin, through the same influence and for 
the same purposes, the cure of Marteville, afterwards 
changed for that of Pont L'Eveque. Calvin received 
the tonsure in 1521 ; and appears more than once to 
have preached to his parishioners at Pont L'Eveque, 
that being the only pastoral function he could dis- 
charge, since he never took Holy Orders from the 
Romish Church. He was in due course sent to study 
at Paris, and there under Corderius laid the foundation 
of that clear and vigorous Latinity which afterwards 
distinguished him. At Paris, too, he was much in the 
society of Robert Olivetan, a fellow-countryman and a 
relative, who had early imbibed what were then termed 
"Lutheran" notions. Much uncertainty hangs over 
details ; but it is probable that Calvin, hitherto a 
fervent and even bigoted Churchman, began from his 
discussions with Olivetan, and afterwards under Oli- 
vetan's advice and direction, to read the Scriptures 
for himself, and to be shaken in his allegiance to his 
old faith. He prosecuted, however, his studies with 
characteristic ardour and perseverance, and was noted 
as yet amongst the professors of his college as a student 
of rare promise. His life was even now pitched in the 
same tone and key which it retained to the end. He 
was austere and ascetic in his own habits, and unsparing 



170 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

in his censures of youthful follies and faults in others. 
" Mirum in modum religiosus, et severus omnium in 
suis sodalibus vitiorum censor," says Beza, his first 
biographer and successor at Geneva. The appropriate 
sobriquet of "The Accusative" was bestowed on him 
by his fellow-students. At any rate he afforded example 
as well as precept. " It is a long time," it was said, 
"since Sorbonne or Montaigu had <so pious a semi- 
narist." " Absorbed in his books, he often forgot the 
hours for his meals and even for sleep. The people 
who lived in the neighbourhood used to show each 
other as they returned home in the evening a tiny and 
solitary gleam, a window nearly lit up all the night 
through." D'Aubigne", i. 518. About 1527, whilst 
pursuing his studies at Paris, and feeling the first 
impulses of that spiritual agitation which then was 
rapidly reaching one after another amongst the leading 
minds of his nation, he received from his father the 
order to lay aside divinity and to betake himself to 
jurisprudence. The motives for this change are not 
altogether clear. The law may have seemed then a 
surer road to wealth and honours; but it is more 
probable that the father desired to remove his son from 
Paris, and had hope that amidst different studies and 
new associates he might shake off the heretical ten- 
dencies which had begun to manifest themselves in 
him. At any rate he removed first to Orleans, where 
Pierre l'Etoile, better known as Petrus Stella, the 
acutest lawyer in France, and afterwards President of 
the Parliament of Paris, was lecturing ; and afterwards 
to Bourges, to study under the celebrated jurist Alciati. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



171 



At Bourges he learned Greek from Melchior Wolmar, 
who had been imported by the munificence of Francis I. 
from Germany, as Alciati had been from Milan. The 
knowledge of Greek brought with it that of the Greek 
Testament; and this to Calvin, as to others, was like 
the opening of a new spiritual world. 

At Bourges his leanings towards Lutheran views 
began openly to show themselves. The first effect of 
the new ideas which Olivetan and "Wolmar had been 
instrumental in opening to him had been, as often was 
the case, merely to throw him more energetically into 
the exercises of piety prescribed by his Church. He 
rejected the new light as a temptation of Satan; he 
confessed himself more diligently, and sought to banish 
his misgivings and to allay his conscience by penances 
and alms-deeds. But an intellect like Calvin's could 
not be put off with expedients of this kind. His 
questionings, his smitings of conscience returned again ; 
he had to bottom these matters for himself; and under 
the guidance of his Greek Testament he found at last 
peace of mind and satisfaction in a clear and firm grasp 
of the Protestant doctrine of Justification. No sooner 
had he attained to something like a settled state of 
mind, than he began to proclaim his settled convic- 
tions to others. He had already attracted so much 
attention by his application and learning, that we find 
him on occasion called on to supply the professor's 
place ; and he was, amongst other foreign divines and 
jurists, asked his opinion on the then much canvassed 
divorce case of Henry VIII. At this juncture Calvin's 
father died, and he found himself at liberty thence- 



172 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

forward to follow without interference the bent of his 
own inclinations. After visiting Noyon and settling 
the family affairs, he renounced for ever the legal 
studies, which left, however, deep and marked traces 
on his genius, his writings, and his conduct ; theology 
took the final precedence of jurisprudence ; the "science 
of God," said Calvin, " is the mistress science, the 
others are only her servants." And he returned in 
1529 to Paris, the focus of the new life and light 
stirring in the nation. 

He found the capital in profound agitation. There 
were to be seen " in the University quarter," says Dr. 
D'Aubigne', "the pupils of Daniel and Yatable, with 
the Hebrew or Greek Testaments in their hands, dis- 
puting with every body. 'It is thus in the Hebrew 
text/ they said; 'and the Greek reads so and so/" 
Calvin, of course, " did not disdain polemics ; following 
tfie natural bent of his mind, he attacked error and 
reprimanded the guilty." Paris was full of Lutheran 
congregations, gathering more or less in secret. The 
strength of the movement party had greatly and rapidly 
increased, and the Sorbonne had resorted to the weapon 
of persecution. There seemed, indeed, at the time every 
prospect that all attempts at suppression would fail; 
that France would openly espouse the cause of the Re- 
formation, and even place herself at the head of the 
Protestant States in a crusade against the allied Impe- 
rial and Papal powers. The traditions of the past, not 
less than the political tendencies of the day, seemed to 
mark out a role of this sort for her. " Gallicanism," 
as opposed to " Ultramontanism," had in substance 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



173 



made its appearance in the arena of French politics 
long before. The great University of Paris, under the 
guidance of Grerson, had more than a century ago 
adopted the principle that the Pope is subject to a 
General Council. Louis XII. but thirty years pre- 
viously had cited Pope Julius II. before him, and had, 
in conjunction with the Emperor Maximilian, attempted 
to get together a General Council to reform the Church. 
Nay he had, in testimony of his thorough- going de- 
signs against the Papacy, caused money to be coined 
with the inscription, " Perdam Babylonis nomen." Of 
Francis I. great hopes were for many years entertained 
by the Reformers. Hereditary policy, as well as un- 
mistakeable expediency, inclined him to favour the 
opponents of extreme Papal pretensions. Personally 
he was a splendid patron of learning, and that in those 
days went a long way towards identifying him with 
the friends of the Reformation. His sister Margaret 
of Valois, afterwards Queen of Navarre, a great favourite 
with him, made no secret of her attachment to the 
Reformed tenets, and protected and encouraged the 
pastors in every possible way. The sequel soon showed, 
however, that the king cared little for religion at all, 
and that the little care he had was not to be bestowed 
on the Reformed manner of it. Though he intrigued 
with the Reformed princes of Germany, lent them sup- 
port in order to embarrass his rival Charles Y., invited 
Melancthon to Paris, and professed great anxiety to 
discover means towards a peaceable and effectual re- 
medy of abuses in the Church ; yet finding ere long 
that the religious prejudices of the mass of his subjects 



174 CRITICAL KSSAYS. 

wore decidedly Papal, and that his coquetting with the 
Protestants was becoming dangerous, he had no hesita- 
tion in whitewashing his character for orthodoxy by 
letting loose the doctors of the Sorbonne upon the 
Lutherans of his capital. Persecution grew hot soon 
after Calvin's return to Paris, and many were put to 
death. Calvin at this time published his first book, 
Seneca's treatise De Clementia, with a Commentary. 
It can hardly be doubted, when we consider the ab- 
sorbing interest of religious questions at that time, 
Calvin's active share in the discussion of those ques- 
tions, and the severities towards his friends which were 
being enacted continually before his eyes, what the 
motive was which suggested this little work. Calvin 
sought in a safe form to recall to the King and the 
Church authorities of the day the duty of toleration 
and mercy, and to shame them by exhibiting the 
^arger- heartedness which even heathen philosophy in- 
culcated. The book, however, produced no result what- 
ever, except indeed that of involving Calvin in con- 
siderable pecuniary anxieties. Calvin's stay in Paris 
was cut short by a very curious incident. Nicholas 
Cop had been elected rector of the Sorbonne, and 
according to custom had to inaugurate his tenure of 
office by a sermon on All Saints' day Cop was a 
friend of Calvin, had imbibed something of his views, 
and rashly accepted Calvin's offer to compose his dis- 
course for him. Great was the astonishment and dis- 
may of the doctors, instead of the time-honoured defence 
of the faith and denunciation of heretics, io hear 
from a chief seat of orthodoxy, in the Mathurins' 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 175 

church, an unsparing onslaught on the merit of good 
works, and a fervent and lucid vindication of the Lutheran 
tenet of justification by faith only. An attack so auda- 
cious could not be overlooked. Cop had to fly in- 
stantly to Switzerland. Calvin's share in the business 
became known, or, at least, suspected, and " the parlia- 
ment was glad of the opportunity which at last offered 
for arresting him. Warned in time, 'he escaped/ as 
Desmay relates, 'by a window, and ran to the St. 
Victor suburb, to a vinedresser's, and changed his 
clothes there.' Meanwhile the famous criminal lieu- 
tenant, Jean Morin, was searching his papers, which 
betrayed the names of several of his adherents. The 
greater part of them, like himself, were obliged to 
flee." — Bungener, p. 28. 

This was in 1533. The affair however was, by the 
good offices of Margaret of Valois, allowed in time to 
drop; and after passing some time at her court at 
JNerac, Calvin in 1535 returned to Paris. The imme- 
diate occasion of his journey seems to have been to 
accept a challenge from Michael Servetus to dispute 
with him respecting the doctrine of the Trinity. Ser- 
vetus had published at Hagenau, in 1531, his work 
"De Trinitatis erroribus," and in the year following 
his "Dialogorum de Trinitate Libri Duo." He had 
been for some years engaged in maintaining his positions 
on this mysterious doctrine against the leading Protes- 
tant Divines ; and his selection of Calvin for an opponent 
is one amongst several proofs of the leading position 
which that Eeformer was by this time acquiring. 
Servetus, whether from fear of his opponent, or, as is 



176 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

more likely, of the Sorbonne, did not appear to take up 
his gage; and the two did not meet until Servetus 
some twenty^years afterwards rashly placed himself in 
Calvin's power at Geneva. 

Calvin's stay at Paris this time was but short. Perse- 
cution, suspended or greatly mitigated for a time, broke 
out again with fresh violence. It "was, indeed, pro- 
voked by the imprudence of the Reformers. They had 
been let alone on the understanding that they would 
keep tolerably quiet. This condition the hot spirits 
among them neither could nor would observe. Speech 
being interdicted, they carried on the war against 
Popery by anonymous tracts and handbills. Morning 
by morning the streets were found placarded with 
little stinging theological squibs. On Oct. 18, 1535, 
they went so far as to post copies of " True Articles on 
the horrible and great abuses of the Papal Mass " on 
the walls of the Louvre, and even on the doors of the 
king's chamber. This violent and indecent proceeding 
is believed to have been mainly concocted by Farel, 
afterwards Calvin's leading ally in Switzerland. The 
consequences of it were terrible to the Protestants, and 
even fatal to their interests in France. The king, 
already irritated by their troublesomeness, seized at 
once the advantage thus given him against them, and 
hastened to respond to the exhortations of the Papal 
partisans. By way of extinguishing the ill odour he 
had contracted amongst Churchmen through allying 
himself with the German Protestants, the heretic King 
of England, and even " the Grand Turk," he broke out 
at once with merciless rigour upon the unhappy Pro- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 177 

testants of Paris. " On the 29th of January, 1535, a 
splendid procession issued from the church of St. Ger- 
main l'Auxerrois. That host which the Reformers out- 
raged by persisting in calling it bread, was carried under 
a canopy, borne by the four chief dignitaries of the 
realm, the Dauphin, and the dukes of Orleans, Yen- 
dome, and Angouleme. The king walked behind, 
bareheaded, with a torch in his hand, as if to make 
expiation for the kingdom. After mass, which was 
magnificently celebrated at St. Genevieve's, the king 
repaired to the episcopal palace, seated himself upon a 
throne prepared in the great hall, and surrounded by 
the clergy, and the nobility and parliament in their 
red robes, declared his intention of granting neither 
peace nor truce to him who should separate from the 
religion of the State. 'He had seen,' he said, 'the 
offence committed against the King of kings by the 
pestilent wickedness of those who would molest and 
destroy the French monarchy.' He was above all in- 
dignant that his good city of Paris, * from time imme- 
morial the head and pattern of all good Christians/ 
had not been sheltered from that pestilence ; and, said 
he, ' it would be very absurd in us if we did not 
confound and extirpate these malignants, as far as in 
us lies.' He enjoined upon all to denounce whoever 
should belong to the malignants, even though a relative 
or a brother. Finally, ' As for me, who am your king, 
if I knew that one of my members was tainted or 
infected with this detestable error, not only would I 
give it you to lop it off, but if I were to perceive one 
of my children infected, I would sacrifice him myself/ 

N 



178 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

Philip II., therefore, who later on was to say as much, 
did but repeat Francis I. And the same day, by way 
of beginning, six fires, in six different parts of the 
town, consumed six men, taken almost indiscriminately 
from amongst those whom the king had just devoted to 
death. One only was decidedly more guilty than the 
rest, Antoine de la Force, the host and friend of Calvin. 
But the stake was not enough — must not the punish- 
ment, like the solemnity, be novel and extraordinary? 
The condemned, fastened to a long swinging beam, 
were to be plunged into the flames, then withdrawn, 
then plunged again, and then withdrawn once more. 
The king of France, like the ferocious Roman emperor, 
had wished that his victims should feel themselves die, 
and, moreover, he had determined to behold their tor- 
tures with his own eyes. As he returned to the Louvre 
he passed the six fires in succession ; six times he saw 
the abominable swing at work, but he did not succeed 
in detecting any weakness or regret in the martyrs." — 
Bungener, pp. 36 — 38. 

From these horrors Calvin fled to Basle, and there 
made or renewed acquaintance with the leading Re- 
formers — Capito, (Ecolampadius, Bucer, GrynaBus, and 
others. Here he continued about a year, and here he 
published the first edition of the great work on which 
his fame as an author and theologian in great part 
rests, — The Institutes of the Christian Religion. The 
earlier bibliographical history of the Institutes is in 
many respects uncertain and disputed. It cannot be 
determined, e. g. whether the work was originally 
written in Latin or in French, whether it appeared 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 179 

anonymously or not, or whether in 1535 or 1536. 
The earliest extant edition is the Latin one of 1536. 
But the Sorbonne had issued a special order that the 
book should be burnt; and it is probable that this 
policy was so far successful as to have annihilated a 
French edition of 1535. The Institutes as thus given to 
the world were by no means the lengthy and elaborate 
work which we now have under the name. They 
were as yet little more than a manual or catechism, in 
which was systematically set forth the faith of those 
whom Calvin saw persecuted and defamed. It con- 
sisted of six chapters only, entitled respectively, " Of 
the Law," "Of Faith," "Of Prayer," "Of the Sacra- 
ments," " Of the Romish Sacraments," " Of Christian 
Liberty." Yet though thus of no great bulk, it was 
by far the most complete, comprehensive, and systematic 
exhibition of Protestant doctrine that had yet been 
seen ; and was welcomed with an unprecedented en- 
thusiasm by those of the reformed persuasion through- 
out Europe. Paulus Thurius, a Hungarian, salutes it 
after the manner of the time thus : 

" Prseter Apostolicas post Christi tempora chartas, 
Huic peperere libro ssecula nulla parem." 

The services thus rendered to his co-religionists by 
Calvin are well indicated by M. Bungener : " Whether 
calumniated or not, whether called or not to say 
what they believed, the Reformed of France wished to 
be able to say it to themselves, not only article by 
article, which many could have done, but under the 
more satisfactory and solid form of a system, and as 
a whole. Not one of them had yet done or been 

n 2 



180 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

able to do this. The success of the Institutes in every 
Protestant country soon showed that the same need was 
felt every wh'ere, even where the faith was already offi- 
cially settled. They wanted something more and some- 
thing better than a confession of faith. They expected 
a book which should be a confession, but be accom- 
panied by all that would be necessary to understand 
and defend it. The Institutes was that book. It gave 
to the new Church the definite feeling of its lawfulness, 
its rights, and its strength. By that clear and concise 
exposition of apostolic Christianity, that vigorous ap- 
peal to Scripture, and that haughty firmness in tracing 
the limits between human traditions and revealed truths, 
Calvin, in some sort, sealed with God's seal all that the 
Reformed faith had done, and started it in its new 
confidence towards the conquests which offered them- 
selves to its zeal." — Bungener, p. 45. 

The Institutes, thus auspiciously launched, ran through 
many editions; and Calvin for nearly a quarter of a 
century was more or less occupied in revising, per- 
fecting, and expanding them. The first edition, as we 
have said, contained six chapters only. The next, that 
of Strasburg, bearing date 1539, numbered seventeen ; 
that of 1543 has twenty-one; that of 1559 counts no 
less than eighty-four. There were, moreover, very 
many intermediate editions. Of the design of this 
great work, we must be content to say that it may be 
conceived as the application to dogmatic theology of 
the cardinal principle of Justification by Faith only, 
and the development of that principle in reference to 
the standing of the human soul as before the three 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 181 

several Persons of the Blessed Trinity ; and, lastly, of 
the relations of the soul to its fellows and equals in the 
Communion of the Church. Hence in its final shape 
the Institutes consisted of four great parts or books 
treating, as M. Bungener describes, of " The knowledge 
of "God and of His creative work ; of Jesus Christ and 
of His redeeming work ; of the Holy Ghost and of His 
regenerating work ; and, finally, of the Church, the 
Body of Christ, the depository of the means of grace 
and salvation." 

Considered as the production of a young man of six 
and twenty the Institutes, even in the imperfect and 
rudimentary state in which they first appeared, have 
been probably to this day unmatched both in weight of 
matter and in excellence of style. Neither must we 
suppose that the fullest and latest edition contained 
any kind of a retractation or cancelling of what had 
appeared in the first, nor even any thing in the nature 
of new principles subsequently discovered and inserted. 
The smaller book was in germ and outline what the 
larger and later ones were in elaborate and expanded 
detail. Nothing that appeared in 1535 had been with- 
drawn in 1559, with the one significant exception of 
some strong passages on religious toleration, which the 
man who had done Servetus to death could not for 
shame's sake allow to stand ; but all was symmetrically 
and gradually unfolded, furnished with new illustra- 
tions, arguments, and applications, and eventually re- 
modelled. We are not aware, indeed, that Calvin 
during his whole life ever, strictly speaking, retracted 
any thing he had once deliberately said or written. 



182 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

His way was to think his subject-matter out with the 
utmost power of his mind ere he put it forth ; and once 
parted from him, it mighjfc acquire indeed new con- 
firmation and receive uses at first undreamed of, but 
remained for ever to its author at least as true to the 
last as it had been from the first. The cream of xhe 
Institutes was, however, for the time found in the 
preface, which was addressed to Francis I. This 
striking composition formed the first great public act 
of Calvin's life; the first open assumption of a lead 
which was afterwards so readily and all but universally 
conceded to him by those of his party. Not without 
reason has Mr. Dyer, Calvin's ablest English bio- 
grapher, ranked this as one of the three most famous 
prefaces which the world has ever seen, that of Ca- 
saubon to Polybius, and of De Thou to his History, 
being the other two. The preface was, in fact,, a formal 
apology for the reformed faith and its adherents ; and 
an indignant and even bitter remonstrance with the 
king of France on his cruelties towards them. " It has 
often been quoted as the first piece of literary eloquence 
possessed by the French tongue ; but to the Reformed 
it was not only the most eloquent pleading till then 
written in their behalf, it was the model, and, as it 
were, the programme of all the apologies they would 
have to write ; and, in fact, even at the present day the 
order followed by Calvin is that to which recourse is 
constantly had. The author's name was soon in every 
mouth, and unanimous testimonies of gratitude and ad- 
miration sought him out in his retreat at Basle. The 
Institutes had the success of every book called forth by 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 183 

serious aspirations, giving a local habitation and a 
name to the thoughts which peopM the air, saying 
what every body thinks ; such a book is every body's 
work, and every body is ready to praise it as his own. 
Many, nevertheless, were alarmed at having thought 
all this, and at being in their consciences accountable 
for a revolution so radically complete. Logically they 
could object nothing ; it was what indeed flowed from 
principle, and no one could think of resisting the indo- 
mitable reasoner. But, and that is what was done by 
some timid ones, they could abandon the principle 
itself; they could proclaim themselves enlightened by 
the enormity of the consequences, and returned cor- 
rected into the old Romish track. But if the Institutes 
had this result in some, they became to many others 
the torch which came to illumine their thick darkness, 
the banner under which they were about to march, 
blessing Gfod for having at last granted them to know 
where they were, and whither they were going.'' — 
Bungener, pp. 64, 65. 

From Basle Calvin proceeded to the court of Ferrara, 
where the duchess Renee, daughter of Louis XII., king 
of France, was friendly both to learning and to the 
Reformation. As he was now a person of note, he 
found it convenient to travel under an alias, and called 
himself Charles d'Espeville. Not long afterwards he 
launched the first Latin edition of the Institutes under 
the name of Alcuin, concealing under this anagram 
the true authorship, lest his name, already hated by the 
adherents of the Papacy every where, should retard the 
circulation of the book in Italy. From Ferrara he was 



184 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

driven by the remonstrances of the pope and the king 
of France with the duke; and we find him next at 
Noyon, where his oldest brother had died, devolving on 
Calvin the family property. Calvin realized his effects* 
and, accompanied by his younger brother and sister, 
left his native town for ever. Returning to Basle late 
in 1536 he had, in order to avoid the invading armies 
of the Emperor, to take the circuitous route by Geneva, 
a circumstance which changed all his after life. His 
arrival was made known -to Farel, who had succeeded 
in winning over the Httle republic to a renunciation of 
the Papacy, and an establishment by law of the re- 
formed faith. 

Dr. D'Aubigne* gives, as might be expected, a very 
lengthy narrative of the troubles which terminated in 
the emancipation of his native city from the yoke at 
once of its prince bishops and of the pope. The politics 
of Geneva for the first forty years or thereabouts of the 
sixteenth century are indeed a curious and not un- 
interesting study, exhibiting, as they do with much 
completeness, the working on a very small scale of 
those mighty political, social, and religious influences 
which have so often in their struggles convulsed whole 
nations and continents. But it is quite out of our 
power to attempt any reproduction of Dr. D'Aubigne^s 
elaborate details. We must be content to indicate with 
the utmost brevity the circumstances which led to the 
ascendancy of protestant and republican principles at 
Geneva. Dr. D'Aubigne gives, however, the etymology 
of the much-disputed word Huguenot ; and his paragraph 
and his authority on such a point are too remarkable to 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



185 



be passed by. " The duke's party accosting the inde- 
pendent Genevans, and gallicizing each in his own way 
the German word Eidesgennossen (confederates), which 
they could not pronounce, called after them Eidguenots, 
Eignots, Eyguenots, Huguenots ! This word is met with 
in the chronicles of the time written in different ways ; 
Michel Roset, the most respectable of these authorities of 
the sixteenth century, writes Hugenots ; we adopt that 
form, because it is the only one that has passed into 
our language. It is possible that the name of the 
citizen, Besancon Hugues, who became the principal 
leader of this party, may have contributed to the pre- 
ference of this form over all the others. In any case 
it must be remembered that until after the Reformation 
this sobriquet had a purely political meaning, in no 
respect religious, and designated simply the friends of 
independence. Many years after, the enemies of the 
protestants of France called them by this name, wishing 
to stigmatize them, and impute to them a foreign, re- 
publican, and heretical origin. Such is the true etymo- 
logy of the word. It would be very strange if these two 
denominations, which are really but one, had played so 
great a part in the sixteenth century at Geneva and in 
French protestantism, without having had any connexion 
with one another. A little later, about Christmas, 1518, 
when the cause of the alliance was more advanced, its use 
became more general. The adherents of the duke had 
no sooner started the nickname than their opponents, 
repaying them in their own coin, called out, 'Hold 
your tongues, you Mamelukes ! . As the Mamelukes 
have denied Christ to follow Mahomet, so you deny 



186 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

liberty and the public cause to put yourselves under a 
tyranny.' At the head of these Mamelukes were some 
forty rich tradesmen, men good enough at heart despite 
their nickname, but they were men of business, who 
feared that disturbances would diminish their gains. 
The term Mamelukes put them into a great passion. 
'Yes/ continued the Huguenots, 'Sultan Selim con- 
quered the Mamelukes last year in Egypt ; but it seems 
that these slaves, when expelled from Cairo, took refuge 
at Geneva. However, if you do not like the name 
stay, since you deliver up Geneva through avarice, we 
will call you Judases ! ' "— D' Aubigne, pp. 118—120. 

The Reformed faith had, indeed, found its way to 
this city at an early date from the neighbouring Swiss 
protestant churches which had been created by the 
labours of Zuingle and his followers. The progress of 
these doctrines had been at Geneva, as elsewhere, 
greatly assisted by the ignorance and profligacy of the 
clergy, and had likewise had a special advantage from 
the treachery of the prince bishops, who engaged them- 
selves in perpetual intrigues to betray the liberties of 
the free city to the neighbouring and powerful dukes 
of Savoy, of whom they were generally family con- 
nexions. The last de facto bishop (Pierre de la Baume), 
alarmed at the disaffection which his treachery and 
misgovernment had caused, fled from the city and in a 
manner like our own James II. abdicated in 1533. 
For the rest we may conveniently borrow a few words 
from Hooker, who gives, it will be remembered, a con- 
cise account of the introduction of the Calvinistic dis- 
cipline into Geneva by way of preface to his own great 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



187 



work : " At the coming of Calvin thither the form of 
their civil regiment was popular, as it continueth at 
this day ; neither king, nor duke, nor nobleman of any 
authority or power over them, but officers" (syndics) 
"chosen by the people yearly out of themselves to 
order all things with public consent. For spiritual 
government they had no laws at all agreed on, but did 
what the pastors of their souls could by persuasion win 
them unto."-— Hooker, Preface, ii. 1. In this state of 
things Calvin " fell at the length upon Geneva ;" and 
was straightway solicited by Farel to take up his abode 
there, and to assist in organizing and consolidating the 
still weak and unsettled Protestantism of the state. 

Farel is too important a person both in himself and 
in his relations to Calvin to allow of our omitting 
to give some account of him. A Frenchman, like 
Calvin, and some ten years his senior, he had in early 
life been an ardent student; and by perusal of the 
Bible had been led to the reflections which converted 
him from an enthusiastic zealot for the pope into a no 
less enthusiastic evangelist of Protestantism in its ex- 
tremer forms. His zeal was from first to last uncom- 
promising, violent, and restless ; he could not be quiet, 
and was banished from France amongst the earliest 
sufferers in the persecutions. He betook himself to 
Basle, and there made himself an enemy, as he did 
every where else, and one not absolutely unfriendly to 
the cause of the Reformation, in the person of Erasmus. 
This learned and clever man, like a vast number of 
wise and thoughtful churchmen throughout western 
Christendom, was convinced at once of the urgent 



188 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

necessity for an extensive reformation of the church, 
and for the preservation, along with the reforms, of 
ecclesiastical unity, apostolic discipline and govern- 
ment, and catholic ritual. Such ideas were for a time 
entertained by Calvin himself, as they were during a 
large part of his course by Luther, and by Melancthon 
perhaps to the very last. Calvin soon persuaded him- 
self not only that truth and purity of doctrine are the 
paramount considerations, but also of the much more 
questionable assumption that these supreme blessings 
were not to be hoped for without an utter subversion of 
the ecclesiastical institutions of Christendom, and a re- 
building of them afresh from the very foundations. 
With characteristic thoroughness Calvin hated the 
" temporizers " as much, if not more, than the " mass 
priests " themselves. Farel in this, as in other things, 
was quite one with him, and outvied him in coarseness 
and violence. Farel stigmatized Erasmus as " Balaam ;" 
and Erasmus retorted by nicknaming Farel, not with- 
out a certain sly verisimilitude, " Phallicus." Erasmus 
at length made Basle too hot for Farel, who retired to 
Berne ; and at length in his crusading zeal found his 
way to Geneva. "Au mois d'Octobre (1532) vint a 
Geneve un chetif malheureux predicant nomine" MaStre 
Guillaume, ,, says the sister Jeanne de Jussie, who has 
left an amusing account of the expulsion of the nuns 
from the city. " A little man of mean appearance, 
with a vulgar face, a narrow forehead, a pale but sun- 
burnt complexion, and a chin on which appeared two 
or three tufts of a red and ill-combed beard," is the 
unattractive sketch given of him by Mr. Dyer. He made 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



189 



his appearance, however, on a scene well suited for the 
display of his remarkable character. The Genevese 
were in full and open rebellion against their spiritual 
and temporal rulers ; and had both from the reaction 
against superstition and tyranny and from their natural 
bent given way to a general licence of habits and 
manners which loudly called for vigorous interference. 
"Such was the city," says M. Bungener, "or rather 
the camp, which Farel wished to subject to all the 
strictness of Gospel morality. Obstacles multiplied, 
but Farel did not lose courage ; he felt himself bound 
to struggle on to the last ; and if the work of God was 
to go down at Geneva before the obstinacy of man, it 
was the duty of the minister of God to uphold it until 
the very last moment. Small of stature and in aspect 
mean, — contemptible, as St. Paul said of himself, — before 
the rebels he rose to the height of indignation and 
faith. Their eyes were abased before him ; and though 
murmurs attended him, it was from afar, and they were 
to be hushed again the moment he turned round. In 
the pulpit he was unsparing. His word rolled like 
thunder ; and his invectives were showered down upon 
those who despised the Gospel. He was rich in those 
expressions which would now be called scarcely evan- 
gelical, but which we might more justly call simply 
unpolished, for nothing is more evangelical at bottom 
than the indignation that armed him." — P. 99. FarePs 
reckless zeal and physical energy had, however, effec- 
tually prepared the way for the peculiar genius of 
Calvin. The monuments of idolatry and superstition 
had been destroyed root and branch, and with them, 



190 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

no doubt, many an innocent appendage of devotion and 
of decency ; and the ascendancy of the reforming inte- 
rest in the state had been secured and vindicated. But 
the Romish party was yet strong, and had potent allies 
outside the city walls. Farel had cleared the stage, 
but could do nothing to replace what he had swept 
away. He felt the arrival in Geneva of a man like 
Calvin to be a godsend indeed, and was instant and im- 
portunate on him to undertake the pastorate for which 
himself had prepared the way. Calvin was reluctant, 
and hung back; he pleaded his unfitness to grapple 
with the turbulent populace of Geneva; he declared 
himself best fitted to serve the good cause by his 
writings ; he required Farel to let him go back to his 
books. " Thy studies," said the zealot, " are a pretext ! 
I tell thee that if thou refusest to associate thyself with 
my work, God will curse thee for having sought thyself 
and not Christ." It was, as Calvin said, " as if God 
from on high had stretched out His hand to stop me." 
And so Calvin was prevailed on to take up his abode at 
Geneva; and was named at first a 4t teacher in theo- 
logy," and soon afterwards regularly appointed by the 
magistrates to the ministry. 

Calvin was not a man to be second where he gained 
standing at all. Farel's ruder and more boisterous 
nature fell at once into the second place ; and in what 
it subsequently effected at Geneva, did simply as Calvin 
planned for it. Calvin at once began with characteristic 
resolution and thoroughness to order and settle every 
thing in church and commonwealth. The Genevese 
populace had been noted for its gaiety, fickleness, and 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



191 



licentiousness, qualities which had been quite as much 
humoured as subdued by the capricious government of 
the prince bishops ; who, so long as their revenues and 
dignity were respected, and the outward observances of 
religion kept up, had left their subjects to do much as 
they pleased. Calvin saw " how needful bridles were 
to be put in the jaws of such a city," and "how dan- 
gerous it was that the whole estate of that church 
should hang still on so slender a thread as the liking of 
an ignorant multitude is, if it have power to change 
whatsoever itself listeth. "Wherefore, taking unto him 
two of the other ministers " (Farel and Courault) " for 
more countenance of the action (albeit the rest were all 
against it), they moved and in the end persuaded with 
much ado the people (July 1537) to bind themselves 
by solemn oaths, — first, never to admit the Papacy 
amongst them again; and, secondly, to live in obe- 
dience unto such orders concerning the exercise of their 
religion and the form of their ecclesiastical government 
as those their true and faithful ministers of God's word 
had agreeably to Scripture set down for that end and 
purpose." — Hooker, Preface, ii. 1. These "orders" 
were embodied in a code of "Articles of Church Go- 
vernment," which in effect reduced Geneva to a theo- 
cracy. These institutions were at a later period drawn 
out into a much completer form, and carried into far 
more detailed application. Reserving our description 
of them therefore for the present, we follow the history 
of Calvin's pastorate. This, with its rigorous and search- 
ing application of discipline, soon became very burden- 
some to the light-hearted and frolicsome Genevese. 



192 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

" The syndics and the council of Geneva seem for a time 
to be new men, and Calvin's adversaries are obliged to 
acknowledge at least the perfect impartiality which pre- 
sides at the infliction of the penalties. One of the first 
punished is a counsellor, Ami Curtet ; another a citizen 
of high station, Matthieu Manlich. An obstinate 
gambler is set in the stocks for an hour, with his 
playing cards hung round his neck. The author of a 
base masquerade is condemned to ask pardon on his 
knees in the cathedral. A man guilty of perjury was 
hoisted up on a ladder, and remained there several 
hours, with his right hand fastened to the top. An 
adulterer and his accomplice were ignominiously paraded 
through the town. A woman who made head-dresses 
was condemned to two days' imprisonment for having 
immodestly decked out a young bride. Some parents 
were punished for having neglected or refused to send 
their children to school." — Bungener, p. 112. 

" When these things," as Hooker says, " began to be 
put in ure, the people also (which causes moving them 
thereunto themselves best know) began to repent them 
of what they had done, and irefully to champ upon the 
bit they had taken into their mouths." Murmurs and 
discontent ensued, and were either sternly suppressed 
or contemptuously disregarded by the resolute pastors. 
The disaffected appealed to Berne, where the Reforma- 
tion had been carried out in somewhat less unsparing 
fashion. At Berne the Eucharist was administered 
with unleavened bread ; the fonts were left and used in 
the churches ; Christmas, Easter, Ascension, and Lady 
Day were observed ; and last, but in the judgment of 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 193 

the gay Genevese by no means least, brides came to 
church, perhaps we ought rather to say to " meeting," in 
flowing tresses. The discipline and ceremonial of Berne 
furnished a convenient cry for the disaffected in Geneva 
to take up. They soon formed a distinct party, were 
stigmatized by the stricter sort as the Libertines, and 
they found many friends amongst the leading men in 
the state. 

The Bernese watched with no little anxiety the 
growing heart-burnings and disorders amongst their 
neighbours. Berne was a leading state in Switzerland ; 
it was mainly through her support that Geneva had 
held her own against the dukes of Savoy, the prince 
bishops, and the popes; the Bernese magistrates 
naturally expected to be listened to about the matters 
in dispute, and they interposed their good offices, re- 
commending Calvin and his colleagues to make some 
little concessions. Nothing of the kind, however, would 
Calvin and Farel listen to ; and they remained obsti- 
nate even when a Synod of the Protestant churches 
held at Lausanne had decided on general conformity to 
the usages of Berne, and the civil magistrates of Geneva 
had resolved, as became them, on compliance. As Easter 
Sunday drew near, Calvin and Farel not only declined 
to use the prescribed unleavened bread, but even to 
administer the Communion to their backsliding flocks 
at all. The magistrates retorted by prohibiting them 
from preaching, an order which the pastors so flagrantly 
trampled under foot as to mount their pulpits on Easter 
Day, and to inveigh bitterly against both the dissolute- 
ness of the people and the supineness of the rulers in 

o 



194 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

enforcing discipline. M. Bungener, with a want of 
impartiality which is unhappily too common in his 
book, suppiesses all mention of the prohibition of the 
magistrates, which certainly is very important as an 
explanation of their next step. The daring rebellion 
of the pastors was such as could not be overlooked. 
Next day sentence of banishment was passed, and Calvin 
and Farel had to quit Geneva within three days. " So 
be.it," said Calvin; "it is better to obey God than 
man." 

These words, and indeed the whole business, are very 
characteristic and significant. One might have sup- 
posed that a man of Calvin's discernment would have 
made little of the trifles round which the whole quarrel 
revolved. But this is only one amongst many proofs 
which those times furnish, that ceremonies were not by 
the Reformers regarded as they are by us. "Ro- 
manism," as M. Bungener remarks, " had so ruled by 
ceremonies and forms, that it was scarce possible to 
retain any of them, and especially to return to any 
of them, without seeming to restore it more or less, and 
seeking to do so altogether." Calvin also thought, and 
probably with reason, that the Libertines rather took 
these matters up as pretexts than found in them the 
real grounds of their hostility Explain it as we may, 
certain it is that Calvin risked the very existence 
of that civil and ecclesiastical polity on which his 
heart and mind were fixed in order to maintain points 
like these. He hazarded his own personal success in 
life, rejected the authority of the other sister Pro- 
testant churches, and braved the scandal to the cause 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 195 

of the Reformation which the sudden and conspicuous 
overthrow of the Genevan institutions caused, for the 
sake of shearing off the bride's tresses, and making 
people work on Christmas Day ! He would compromise 
nothing, concede nothing, and retract nothing. It is 
important to note that on his own principles he could 
not do so. Puritanism has many close and subtle affi- 
nities with Popery ; and M. Bungener parries Romish 
attacks against Calvin's ordinances at Geneva by a ver^y 
successful "tu quoque," based upon the equally minute 
and vexatious regulations of the Holy Father at Pome. 
The childish preciseness of such governments, and the 
stolid tenacity with which frivolous details are insisted 
on by them, are only intelligible on the principle on 
which Calvin spoke when he declared he would " obey 
God rather than man ;" and left the Genevan church 
to its fate rather than bate a jot or a tittle of his sump- 
tuary and ceremonial precepts. In the very spirit of 
the old Roman Metellus, " de civitate decedere maluit 
quam de sententia," and he did so in the persuasion, we 
may not doubt an honest one, that these things were 
part of the law of God, against whose statutes no 
exception must be taken. Religionists of this sort, — 
the Romanist from his theory of an earthly organ of 
infallibility, — the Puritan from his notion that the Bible 
must be the rule to direct all things, " even so far as 
the taking up of a rush or a straw" (Cartwright, 
quoted by Hooker, ii. 1, 2), — see no degrees in duties 
enjoined by the spiritual authority. To surrender the 
merest iota of what is in fact the very commandment 
of God is the rankest impiety ; to resist it, rebellion 

o 2 



196 CRITIC VL ESSAYS. 

against Heaven ; to tamper with it, the most daring 
presumption. The very thought that what God wills 
should not be done, or but half done, is a thorn in the 
side which suffers the saint to have no rest. Impedi- 
ments of circumstances are but trials of faitlji, which 
must succumb before those who bear with them the 
commission of God. If men are not pleased or suited 
by what Heaven enacts for them, so much the worse for 
ip.en. It is not to be expected that those appointed to 
carry out the will of God can stoop to regard human 
expediencies or mundane convenience. On such prin- 
ciples and in such a spirit Calvin laid down and imposed 
his beloved church discipline and polity. Such, too, 
was the tone and temper of our own Puritans, the 
legitimate followers of Calvin. " Whatsoever is not in 
the word of God is not of faith ; and whatsoever is not 
of faith is sin." Hence it must be that the Bible con- 
tains all needful directions for church matters ; what is 
not found in it is sin, what is found in it is a command- 
ment of God. It only needs to take one step further — 
to us certainly a very long one, but to Calvin a very 
sure one — and to convince ourselves that the Genevan 
regimen is demonstrable in every part from Scripture, 
and then we acquire at once an indefeasible sanction for 
every detail of it. Calvin and his colleagues undoubt- 
edly saw in their ecclesiastical state the new Jerusalem 
come down from above. They could not suffer a hostile 
finger to be laid so much as on the skirts of one of the 
least of her ministers, nor a stone to be displaced from 
Ikt battlements, which were the Lord's. Magistrates 
and councils could not make and unmake God's laws at 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 197 

pleasure. The municipal bodies, it is true, had esta- 
blished the doctrine and discipline at Geneva ; but they 
had not therefore the right to subvert them. The 
majority which had voted the Ecclesiastical Articles 
was a christian majority, acting according to the will of 
God, and therefore to be honoured and obeyed. The 
numbers who two years afterwards cancelled what they 
had previously enjoined formed an infidel and immoral 
majority, which stood self-condemned by its very act. 
Calvin shook off the dust from his feet, and left Geneva 
to the wrath of God. 

At first the recreant Genevese had a keen sensation 
of relief, and utterly declined to listen to the interces- 
sion of the good-natured Bernese municipality, which 
as usual strove to make peace, to procure the abro- 
gation of the new ceremonies, and to bring about the 
recall of the banished pastors. Calvin accordingly 
proceeded to Strasburg, then a free city, which had for 
the time embraced the cause of the Reformation, and 
which afforded a safe asylum for the persecuted Pro- 
testants of various countries. Here he received an 
appointment as Professor of Theology, and pastor of a 
small flock of French Protestant refugees. He con- 
tinued at Strasburg three years, — years which were im- 
portant ones in his life in many ways. He made, in 
the comparative leisure he now enjoyed, the most con- 
siderable of the many additions which one after another 
swelled the Institutes to their present dimensions. 
Especially did the edition of 1539 contain a developed 
exhibition of his ideas on church government, a topic 
to which his thoughts had naturally been more than 



198 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

ever before directed. He gave to the world in the 
same year his Commentary on the Romans, the first of 
a long and Very important series of exegetical works, 
which we must not fail to notice more particularly 
in the sequel. He took part, with other leading Re- 
formers, in negotiations held under the auspices of the 
Emperor at Diets held at Worms and at Ratisbon; 
which negotiations in the end proved abortive, though 
carried on to some length, and holding out hopes at 
one time of reuniting the severed communities of 
christians, Papal and Protestant. And last, and we 
fear from Calvin's point of view we must say least, he 
took a wife. The transactions connected with his mar- 
riage have altogether a curious and characteristic air, 
suggesting irresistibly that Calvin suffered himself to 
be over-persuaded in the matter, as Hooker did, by his 
friends. Calvin was advised that a wife would be the 
best possible nurse for him, would make him more com- 
fortable, and prolong his life. So he commissioned his 
friends to procure for him the article they described ; 
and stated without reserve his wants to Farel amongst 
others, " Remember, what I desire above all to find is a 
help-meet. I am not, thou knowest, one of those lovers 
who adore even the defects of the woman of whom they 
are enamoured. The only beauty that can please my 
heart is one that is gentle, chaste, modest, economical, 
patient, and, finally, careful of her husband's health." 
Various negotiations were set on foot by his friends, of 
one of which another letter to Farel gives some curious 
particulars. "I was offered a lady who was young, 
rich, of noble birth, and whose dower much surpassed 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 199 

all that I can desire. Two things, however, urged me 
to refuse : she does not know French, and it seems to 
me she must be rather proud of her birth and education. 
Her brother, of rare piety, and blinded by his friend- 
ship so as to forget his own interests, pressed me to 
accept, and his wife joined her solicitations to his. 
What was I to do ? I should have been compelled, if 
the Lord had not extricated me. I answer that I ac- 
cept if she will, on her part, undertake to learn our 
tongue. She asks for time to reflect; and I imme- 
diately commission my brother, with one of my friends, 
to go and ask for me the hand of another person, who 
will bring me, without a fortune, a dowry good enough, 
if her qualities answer to what is said of them. If, as 
I hope, my proposal is accepted, the marriage will not 
be delayed beyond the 10th of March (1540), and all my 
desire is that thou shouldst come and bless our union." — 
Bungener, p. 158. This project was not realized. Some 
details respecting his betrothed, which came to Calvin's 
knowledge, obliged him to withdraw his promise ; and 
some months afterwards he seems much discouraged. " I 
have not found yet," he writes to Farel. " Would it 
not be wiser to give up my search?" At length the 
disinterested efforts made on his behalf were crowned 
with success. " He found at last what he sought. An 
Anabaptist, John Storder, who was brought back by 
him to the Gospel, had died shortly after, leaving a 
widow and orphans. She was called Idelette, Idelette 
de Bure or Yan Buren, from the name of a small town 
of Guelderland. Bucer knew her; he had seen her 
excellent and admirable qualities still further developed 



200 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

by the burdens and responsibilities of widowhood. He 
spoke of her to tylvin, and Calvin's choice was fixed. 
She brought him as her dower serious piety, watchful 
tenderness, and a soul equal to every sacrifice*" — 
Bungener, p. 159. 

Though not disposed to flinch from the least of his 
demands, yet it was plain from the first that Calvin's 
regrets turned back to Geneva. Scarce three months 
of his banishment had expired when we find him in- 
diting a stirring epistle to " his well-beloved brethren 
in the Lord who are the relics of the dispersion of the 
Church of Geneva." He defends vigorously his own 
conduct; he animates his faithful adherents to sted- 
fastness ; he shows that it was undoubtedly Satan who 
had "employed the malice" of his opponents "as an 
instrument of war against the Church ;" he prophesies 
that all their ways will be seen "evidently to tend 
to confusion." These predictions were soon verified. 
Calvin's departure had left every thing in the little 
state at sixes and sevens. All the institutions — civil, 
social, and ecclesiastical, had been grouped round him 
as their centre and mainspring ; and his absence disorga- 
nized every thing. The example of successful resistance 
to authority had also proved, as might be expected, a 
fruitful one. The magistrates could not enforce the 
laws. All was laxity, powerlessness, and anarchy. 
The Papal and reactionist faction, which had been re- 
duced by sentences of death and banishment but never 
quite rooted out, revived, and became energetic and 
progressive in the city. Some few retrograded openly 
to Romanism. The expelled Bishop began to meditate 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 201 

a reoccupation of his episcopal palace. Cardinal Sa- 
dolet, a dexterous politician, an elegant scholar, and 
amongst the most skilful controversialists of his party, 
penned at the Pope's suggestion a letter to the senate 
and people of Geneva, in which he set forth their 
present disorders and sufferings as the sad results of 
disobedience to ancient authority and of revolt from the 
safe fold of the church. He pointed to a return as the 
only assured refuge. The letter received a polite ac- 
knowledgment, but no further response from the Ge- 
nevese. Calvin, however, from Strasburg flew to the 
rescue, and" penned for his former flock an answer to 
Sadolet so keen, thorough, and effective as to close the 
controversy at once. The effect of this success at 
Geneva was marked; and it stimulated a reaction, 
already setting in, in favour of Calvin and his system. 
" Neither reply nor attempt at reply was made, that we 
know of, to this answer of Calvin's. It soon ran 
through Europe. Luther enjoyed it thoroughly. He 
realized all the power and promise of a controversy 
conducted with so much ease, frankness, and vivacity. 
' Here is a writing/ he said, ' which has hands and 
feet. I rejoice that God raises up such men. They 
will continue what I have begun against Antichrist, 
and with the help of God they will finish it.' When 
Sadolet received the epistle he may also have received, 
at the same time, some details upon the effects it had 
produced at Geneva. In the first place, there was the 
satisfaction always felt on reading a work which says 
precisely what a man would have said of himself, had 
he known how to say it : then there was the joy of the 



202 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

victory, for the victory over Sadolet was evident and 
incontestable ; and as victory always draws after it the 
undecided, it was the joy of all, or nearly all. In many 
it was easily transformed by Calvin's friends into grati- 
tude ; they dared say publicly there was no one like 
him for such services. They re-perused the eloquent 
apology, which he made in passing, for his ministry at 
Geneva, and they allowed themselves to be moved by 
words so true and noble : ' Though discharged for the 
present from the administration of the Church of Geneva, 
nevertheless this cannot deprive me of bearing towards 
her a paternal love and charity; towards her, I say, 
over whom God once ordained me, and so has obliged 
me for ever to keep faith and loyalty with her.'" — 
Bungener, pp. 145, 146. 

Calvin's leading opponents at the same time dis- 
credited themselves by intriguing with the potentates 
whose territories encircled Geneva, and who were 
always on the watch for an opportunity of annexing 
this little free state. This sort of treachery as it was 
most dangerous, so it was most hateful to the Genevese ; 
and the doubts to which repeated examples of it gave 
rise as to the patriotism of the Libertines did much to 
complete the reaction in Calvin's favour, and to esta- 
blish* the preponderating influence he eventually ac- 
quired. In 1540 the council charged Amy Perrin " to 
find means to bring back Master Calvin." Calvin, 
however, was in no haste ; he pleaded his engagements 
in Germany, his students, and his flock at Strasburg ; he 
professed disinclination to face again the agitation and 
opposition which his past experience told him must be 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 203 

expected at Geneva. As Calvin hung back, the Gene- 
vese of course became more urgent. They passed re- 
peated resolutions in amusing variety on the absorbing 
topic of his return in all their various assemblies. The 
smaller council on October 13th resolves "to write a 
letter to Monsieur Calvin to pray that he would assist 
us." The Council of Two Hundred on October 19th 
determines, "in order that the honour and glory of 
God may be promoted, to seek all possible means to 
have Master Caulvin as preacher." On October 20th in 
the General Council it was ordered " to send to Stras- 
burg to fetch Master Jean Calvinus, who is very learned, 
to be minister in this city." Circular letters were 
written to the governments of Zurich, Berne, and Basle 
requesting their good offices; Farel was instigated to 
write characteristically to the coy exile ; Bucer threatened 
him with the afflicting judgments of God if he turned 
a deaf ear longer to importunity. At last Calvin gave 
way, but only in August, 1541. 

" On the 19th of August it was decided to send and 
fetch him. On the 22nd, thirty-six crowns were allotted 
to 'Eustache Vincent, our mounted herald, to go and 
fetch Master Calvin.' The 29th, it was resolved that 
he shall be lodged ( in the house now occupied by the 
minister Bernard, to whom another will be given/ 
The 30th, a letter was written to the Council of Neu- 
chatel, in order that Farel might be authorized to 
accompany his friend as far as Geneva. The 4th of 
September, it was resolved to lodge Calvin in the house 
called the Chantry, before the cathedral. The 9th, 
there was another change; he is to have given him 



204 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

' the house of the lord of Freyneville.' Two councillors 
are commissioned to install him there, seeing that ' he 
is to be here this evening/ At length on the 13th, 
' Master Jean Calvin is arrived from Strasburg, and has 
excused himself in detail for the long tarrying which 
he made.' 

"Other details have been found in the registers. 
Thus, on the 20th of September, 'Ordered, that cloth 
be bought to make him a gown ;' and a few days after, 
' The treasurer was ordered to disburse for Master 
Calvin's gown, including cloth and fur, eight crowns/ 
On the 4th of October, ' Salary of Master Calvin, who 
is a man of great learning, and favourable to the re- 
storation of the Christian churches, and is exposed to 
heavy expenses from strangers who come this way. 
Whereupon it was resolved that he should have for 
wages yearly five hundred florins, twelve measures of 
wheat, and two casks of wine/ Five hundred florins 
represented then about three thousand francs, or a 
hundred and twenty pounds at the present day. 

" The house of the lord of Freyneville was a house 
which had been formerly sold by the state to that 
nobleman, who was originally from Picardy. Having 
left Geneva, he was desirous of selling it, and the 
council had decided on repurchasing it. Calvin, how- 
ever, for what reasons we know not, did not enter it 
till two years afterwards, and was located during those 
two years in a house close by, formerly the property of 
the abbot of Bonmont, Aime de Gingins. Both were 
in the Rue des Chanoines, and corresponded one to the 
present number eleven, the other to number thirteen. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



205 



Smaller than the houses which have replaced them, 
each of them had a small garden at the back ; on the 
same side the view extended over the terraced roofs of 
the city, which rose one above another, like the steps of 
a ladder, and included in the far distance the lake and 
its shores, the district of Vaud, and the wooded slopes 
of the Jura." — Bungener, pp. 166, 167 

Thus did the grateful and obsequious citizens show 
their love and zeal for their returned pastor and master ; 
thus was he, as Beza says, "received with so extra- 
ordinary zeal by that poor people, famishing to hear 
their faithful pastor, that they took no rest till he was 
fixed there for ever." 

Calvin's time was now come for realizing those ideas 
of Church and State which his experiences at Geneva 
and his reflections during the comparative leisure of 
Strasburg had led him to form. Those ideas may be 
found in the fourth book of the Institutes. Even 
before he set foot in Geneva on his recall, he had made 
representations to the council of the necessity for " some 
scheme of discipline agreeable to the word of God and 
the practice of the primitive church ;" and had com- 
municated his views in outline. ~No sooner was he 
fairly reinstated in his oflice, than he requested the 
council to name delegates to confer with him and his 
brother ministers on the whole subject. Calvin's own 
proposals were, of course, adopted almost without modi- 
fication, and were finally voted by the General As- 
sembly of the citizens on January 2nd, 1542, from 
which day accordingly the regular and legal establish- 
ment of the Calvinistic republic must date. 



206 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

The utter subversion of the ancient regime, both 
ecclesiastical and civil, had left a fair and open field 
for Calving institutions. These, whilst preserving as 
regards state matters a certain continuity with the old 
system, amounted in truth to little else than a complete 
reorganization of church and state, and a reorganization 
which adapted the latter to the purposes of the former. 
Calvin's political reforms need not be described. Their 
purport was direct and plain. They aimed at reducing 
the power of the democratic element in the constitution ; 
for Calvin was a thorough aristocrat, and had moreover 
had already painful experience of the fickleness of 
popular favour. The government of the state was car- 
ried on by various councils one within the other, and 
all eventually controlled by the general body of the 
citizens, from which they derived their authority and 
received their election. By making the meetings of 
the General Assembly very rare, and limiting the busi- 
ness of them to such as might be brought forward 
from the smaller or ordinary council, Calvin practically 
concentrated the power of government in the hands of 
the latter. The ordinary council consisted of twenty- 
five members. It consisted of the four syndics annually 
elected, the four outgoing syndics, and other elected 
members ; over the choice of whom, however, the council 
itself possessed such control as to make it in large 
measure self- elected, and practically to reduce the 
government to an oligarchy* The executive functions 
belonged entirely to this body; and from the duties 
assigned to it in preparing the business for the larger 
councils of Sixty, Two Hundred, and the General As- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 207 

sembly, it had in fact the judicial and legislative powers 
too. This ordinary council was by Calvin's regulations 
closely connected with the ecclesiastical authorities, and 
was thus the instrument through which the whole 
government assumed a theocratic tone. As to the 
church : " There are four orders or kinds of office," say 
the ordinances, " instituted by our Lord for the general 
government of His church, — namely, pastors, then doc- 
tors, then elders or presbyters (anciens), and fourthly, 
deacons." The clergy, i. e. the pastors and doctors, 
met together in synod, and were called " the Venerable 
Company," for the regulation of affairs exclusively 
spiritual, such e. g. as the qualification and appointment 
of candidates for the ministry. The chief engine of 
ecclesiastical authority was the Consistory, which was 
composed of the pastors of the five city churches and 
twelve lay and elective members. These lay members 
were annually named by the smaller council on the 
recommendation of the Venerable Company. Thus, 
though the lay element was twice as large as the 
clerical, yet the latter had the great advantage of being 
fixed, whilst the former was annually changed, and 
besides practically owed its appointment and authority 
to the clergy. Calvin appears ere long to have taken 
on himself the perpetual presidency of the Consistory : 
and we can under these circumstances well understand 
how, as Hooker says, " when things came to trial of 
practice, their pastor's learning would be at all times 
of force to over-persuade simple men, who knowing the 
time of their own presidentship to be but short, would 
always stand in fear of their minister's perpetual autho- 



208 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

rity; and among the ministers themselves, one being 
so far in estimation above the rest, the voices of the 
rest were likely to be given for the most part respec- 
tively, with a kind of secret dependence and awe ; so 
that in show a marvellous indifferently composed senate 
ecclesiastical was to govern, but in effect only one man 
should, as the spirit and soul of the residue, do all in 
all." — Preface, ii. 4. This court had " the care of all 
men's manners, power of determining all kinds of eccle- 
siastical causes, and authority to convent, to control, to 
punish, as far as with excommunication, whomsoever 
they should think worthy, none either small or great 
excepted." Within its jurisdiction came all breaches 
of morality, and of church order, and all false doctrine. 
The pastors were expected to report to it parents who 
did not send their children to school, or who themselves 
neglected their public religious duties. The pastors 
visited in regular rotation every house within their 
cure to inquire into the habits of its inmates; and 
spies, according to some authorities, were employed to 
watch for infringements of good manners and of dis- 
cipline, and were paid for their services out of the 
fines levied on offenders. The court met every Thurs- 
day ; and where its own spiritual censures seemed in- 
sufficient, handed over culprits by an official repre- 
sentation to the council. It is needless to add that 
severe pains and penalties of all kinds waited obse- 
quiously on the behests of the Consistory ; for the civil 
courts were regulated by Calvin's code, which contem- 
plated it as the first duty of the state to make and 
enforce all such laws as conduce to the establishment 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 209 

and maintenance of " Grod's kingdom on earth." Thus 
the ecclesiastical authorities borrowed all such effective- 
ness for their decrees as temporal punishments could 
afford, whilst the odium of these severities seemed to 
attach rather to the magistrates who were the im- 
mediate instruments of them. 

Dr. D'Aubigne will, no doubt, give us some graphic 
details of the administration of Geneva under this 
system. The instalment of his work now before 
us, however, does not carry the history beyond the 
year 1532. M. Bungener rightly characterizes the 
result of Calvin's labours as the production of a " Pro- 
testant Rome," and admits that some of his measures 
" can scarcely find favour with our more enlarged 
ideas," but is too much of the advocate to give a full 
and fair representation of the spiritual and social des- 
potism under which the light-hearted Genevese now 
found themselves. The Consistory and its agents ex- 
tended their inquisitorial interference down to the 
smallest details even of private life ; from the cradle to 
the grave, from church and market-place to his very 
dinner- table and his bed-room, the citizen was un- 
ceasingly guided and superintended almost in every act 
and thought. Not only were all the grosser vices re- 
pressed with terrible severity, but lighter peccadilloes, 
youthful indiscretions, and many things deserving 
rather the name of follies than faults were rigorously 
treated. Works of fiction, cards, all games of chance, 
and all dancing and masquerading were utterly pro- 
hibited. Holidays and festivals of all kinds were done 
away with except Sunday, if that, indeed, be an excep- 

p 



210 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

tion which had under penalty to be kept with strict 
attendance at sermon and seclusion at home. The 
number of dishes at dinner and dessert was limited; 
slashed breeches, jewels, and various of the gayer kiDds of 
silks and stuffs were banned. Bouquets given to brides 
might not be encircled with gold or precious stones. The 
bride's dress itself was matter of very careful regulation. 
It is on record, " Une epouse e*tant sortie Dimanche avec 
les cheveux plus abattus qu'il ne se doit faire, ce qui est 
d'un mauvais exemple, et contraire a ce qu'on leur 
evangelise, on fait mettre en prison sa maitresse, les 
deux qui l'ont menee, et celle qui l'a coiffee." — Re- 
gisters of Geneva, cited by Dyer, p. 78. The citizens 
were not to be from home later than nine at night; 
and were strictly to attend all sermons together with 
their household, and not to fail in being present at the 
quarterly administration of the Lord's Supper, for so 
much, neither less nor more, of this means of grace did 
Calvin ordain for his people. Such are a few specimens 
of the municipal regulations formed under the control 
of the Consistory. And they were enforced with un- 
sparing, sometimes frightful cruelty. Imprisonments, 
public penances, the stocks, fines, and even tortures 
and death, were dispensed with no sparing hand. A 
child was beheaded in 1558 for having struck her 
parents; a youth of sixteen, for having threatened to 
do so, shared the same fate. Such incidents as these 
are passed over in the pages of M. Bungener ; but they 
may be found in abundance in the Life of Calvin by 
Dr. Paul Henry, translated from the German by Dr. 
Stebbing. Dr. Henry's biography is a most complete 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 211 

and exhaustive magazine of materials ; and its author, 
though a warm admirer of Calvin, is too candid to 
suppress the facts which his researches have revealed 
to him. The effects of Calvin's terrorism must to com- 
plete this part of the subject be noticed; and as M. 
Bungener leaves us here almost without help, we must 
avail ourselves of that of the more copious Dr. Henry. 
Quoting a recent Genevese writer, Graliffe, he says: 
"To those who imagine that Calvin did nothing but 
good, I could produce our registers, covered with re- 
cords of illegitimate children, which were exposed in 
all parts of the town and country ; hideous trials 
for obscenity; wills, in which fathers and mothers 
accuse their children not only of errors but of crimes ; 
agreements before notaries between young women and 
their lovers, in which the latter, even in the pre- 
sence of the parents of their paramours, make them 
an allowance for the education of their illegitimate 
offspring; I could instance multitudes of forced mar- 
riages, in which the delinquents were conducted from 
the prison to the church ; mothers who abandoned their 
children to the hospital, whilst they themselves lived 
in abundance with a second husband ; bundles of law- 
suits between brothers; heaps of secret negotiations; 
men and women burnt for witchcraft; sentences of 
death in frightful numbers ; and all these things among 
the generation nourished by the mystic manna of 
Calvin." 

We cannot wonder that such a system was soon 
found by the people to be but a revival of the Papacy 
under another shape. "Details," says M. Bungener, 

p 2 



212 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

"are lost in the general survey;" but lie himself has 
embalmed a few characteristic specimens. He tells us 
e. g. of a " Lyons refugee " who exclaimed, " ' How de- 
lightful it is to see this lovely liberty in this city!' 
' Liberty ! ' said a woman of the lower orders, ' we were 
obliged formerly to go to mass, and now we are obliged 
to go to sermon.' " Calvin at Geneva, like the Pope 
at Rome, was undoubtedly " an historical fact ;" and one 
not lightly to be overlooked. " One day in the large 
hall of the Cloisters Calvin was giving his lectures on 
divinity — suddenly they hear outside laughter, cries, 
and a great clamour. This proceeds from fifteen or 
twenty Libertines." Again, " Some Libertines a few 
days after disturbed Calvin's preaching by entering the 
church very noisily ; so a gibbet was raised in the Place 
St. Grervais, but happily it did service for no one." 
The daring of the Libertines, notwithstanding such a 
significant warning, increases. "Some of them call 
their dogs by his name. When he passes through the 
streets some hiss; and others cry Calvin in such a 
manner as to make it sound Cain" " Raoul Monnet 
had drawn, or caused to be drawn," a series of licentious 
prints ; and was for that crime tried, condemned, and 
executed. The Libertines persisted in giving, contrary 
to the ordinances, certain names to their children, " to 
which in Romish times a superstitious meaning had 
been attached. Claude promised a long life, Balthazar 
good health," &c. Calvin fought with his peculiar 
tenacity and indomitable thoroughness against each and 
every form of Libertinism, though sometimes with but 
divided success. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



213 



Such a system as that imposed by Calvin on Geneva 
can only be maintained on two suppositions, both of them 
diametrically opposed to modern notions, both theo- 
logical and political. Calvin was possessed on the one 
hand with the ancient notions as to the functions of the 
state ; on the other, with the belief that the New Testa- 
ment, like the Old, contemplated a visible theocracy. 
The ancients in their political theories subordinated the 
end, the offices, and the happiness of the individual 
citizen to the well-being of the whole ; the man existed 
for the sake of the state. The modern statesman aims, 
indeed, at securing life and property, but leaves the 
freest play for individual character and habits which 
may consist with the rights of others. The institutions 
of the country grow up under his hand out of the 
needs and the interests of the particular persons in 
it. Calvin, on the contrary, begins all a priori. Poli- 
tically he had an ideal polity, to which without 
sparing and scruple he bent every element he might 
have to deal with; theologically he had, moreover, 
"a pattern shown to him in the mount," after which 
it was a duty to God to "make all things." Hence 
every thing about his regulations, down to "the 
fringes and the pomegranates," was to be submitted to, 
whether expedient, convenient, or not. "Nothing is 
more displeasing to God," he observes in a letter to the 
Protector Somerset, " than when we, by our human pru- 
dence, would either modify or retrench, advance or 
retire, against His will." So persuaded, Calvin was 
dogmatic and peremptory in enforcing obedience to his 
doctrine, discipline, and regulations. He was, no doubt, 



214 CRITICAL ESSAY8. 

naturally of an obstinate and imperious temper ; but it 
is impossible to study his character without admit- 
ting also the depth and the sincerity of his convictions. 
Whether it were rather the convictions which created 
the unswerving arbitrariness he uniformly exhibited, or 
the temper which gave absoluteness to the convictions, 
who shall say? Men act from mixed motives, even 
when they seem to themselves to be cherishing but pure 
ones; and Calvin assuredly was no exception to the 
rule. 

From 1542 Calvin's reign at Geneva was unbroken. 
The Libertines from time to time gave him indeed 
much trouble, and their strength and violence were 
occasionally such as seriously to endanger the esta- 
blished order of things. The sect acquired a certain 
solidity and definiteness of theological standing at 
Geneva from opposition to Calvin's doctrines, and no 
little influence from the disaffection generated by the 
impartial strictness of his discipline. In religion the 
Libertines held a sort of philosophic and pantheistic 
Anabaptism, which was particularly repulsive to a hard 
and logical intellect like Calvin's: "God is in every 
thing and every one ; all therefore that is said, thought, 
and done proceeds from Him." Such are, in short and 
coarse terms, the tenets with which the Genevan Liber- 
tines are credited. Calvin published in 1544 a writing 
entitled, " To the Ministers of the Church of Neufchatel 
against the fanatical and furious sect of the Libertines 
who call themselves Spirituals ;" and took within his own 
jurisdiction the most stringent measures against them. 
Yet so galling was the pressure of the discipline, and so 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 215 

vehement the discontent with it and him, that he had 
often need of all his energy and all his resolution to 
hold his own. " For nine years," says M. Bungener, 
"he was every moment on the point of being— not 
conquered, for he was not of those who can he con- 
quered,— but crushed; for nine years it was his to expect 
every month and every week to be expelled from that 
city which he was nevertheless continuing to render 
illustrious and powerful abroad; for nine years he 
guided Geneva as a vessel on fire, which burns the 
captain's feet and yet obeys him, and which in combat 
is not less formidable and feared." The long struggle 
was at last terminated by a blunder on the part of his 
adversaries, which gave Calvin an instant and over- 
whelming preponderance. They contracted criminal 
relations with France and Savoy, and were drawn in 
1555 into open revolt against the government of their 
native city. Their attempt to seize the upper hand 
by force was easily and promptly suppressed; domi- 
ciliary visits laid bare their treason ; several, and amongst 
them members of some of the leading families in Geneva, 
perished by the hand of the executioner; many others 
were banished ; and Calvin's supremacy and the autho- 
rity of his institutions continued thenceforward un- 
questioned and undisturbed. 

The current of Calvin's energies, during the ten 
years which afterwards remained to him on earth, 
ran principally in the channels of administration at 
home, hard study and writing given chiefly to his 
Commentaries, and controversy. " The work of Calvin 
embraced every thing. The former disciple of Alciatus 



216 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

was the jurisconsult of Geneva, no less than her divine ; 
the public archives contain many files of law papers 
annotated bf his hand. In civil cases his sagacity and 
his legal knowledge are admirable ; in criminal cases, 
his severity, as was to be expected, is great, but great 
especially towards those who knew the good and 
voluntarily chose the evil. He wishes that the human 
judge, like the Supreme Judge, should require much of 
him to whom much has been given. Often also the 
jurisconsult had to merge into the diplomatist. Calvin, 
whom we have already seen interfering in the critical 
matter of the pretensions of Berne and of the banished 
Libertines, was the soul, and sometimes the agent, of 
all the negotiations in which Geneva had to take 
part." 

" But great affairs were far from being the only ones 
on which the Reformer was consulted ; details, curious 
and strange, have been preserved as to the services 
sometimes required of him. That Robert Stephens, 
the printer, should have consulted him on printing, 
and should even have owed to his counsels a part of his 
reputation, is readily understood; but if any trade 
somewhat novel and delicate requested permission to 
establish itself at Geneva, the council would send the 
people to speak with M. Calvin to show him their 
wares, and to work under his eyes, and, according to 
his opinion, the authorization was granted or refused. 
One day, a surgeon comes, and the council wishes 
Calvin to be present at the examination he has to 
undergo. Another day, it is a dentist, whose art is 
new, for hitherto men had only been drawers of teeth, 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 217 

but he announces himself as taking care of and repair- 
ing them. He is sent to M. Calvin, and Calvin re- 
ceives him, puts himself into his skilful hands, and 
recommends him to the magistrates. It was he who, 
already in 1544, had endowed Geneva with a. trade of 
which the profits were a great help in hard times ; 
Genevese cloths and velvets had a great sale in France 
until the reign of Henry IY Sully is much lauded 
for having established the French manufactures; but 
Calvin had done no less at Geneva." — Bungener, pp. 
329, 330. 

It would be tedious to give any detailed narrative of 
the negotiations which led to the Consensus Tigurinus, 
a concordat effected in 1546 under the ascendancy of 
Calvin amongst the leading Swiss churches, by which 
the Calvinistic doctrine respecting the Eucharist was 
accepted instead of the Zuinglian. Nor can we trace 
the progress of his controversies with Pighius and 
Castellio upon Predestination, nor with Westphal and 
Heshusius respecting Consubstantiation. These dis- 
putes were conducted by Calvin with an energy and 
ability peculiarly his own, and with a vituperative 
bitterness characteristic both of himself and of the 
times. Nothing was too vile and too gross to be flung 
at the heads of those who differed from him ; and it 
mattered nothing what the value of the difference might 
be. Pighius, one of the most distinguished scholars of 
the day, who had had the Emperor Charles Y for a 
pupil, died exhausted by hard work in 1542, whilst his 
wordy strife with Calvin was still pending. Some time 
after, having to take up again his favourite subject 



218 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

against a new opponent, Bolsec, Calvin seizes the op- 
portunity to show that the theological animosity was 
not quenched even by the death of its object. " Pighius 
died a little after my book was published," he observes 
in the introduction to his tractate de Eternd Predestina- 
tione Dei bearing date in 1551, " wherefore not to insult 
a dead dog I applied myself to other lucubrations." 
Yet he takes up the name of the dead Pighius, thus 
insultingly, only to offer a greater insult to Bolsec, 
who is " too insipid an animal " to serve as an opponent 
at all! Bolsec was originally a monk, but had em- 
braced the Reformed faith, studied medicine, and mar- 
ried and settled at Geneva as a physician. He dared 
to challenge the dominant predestinarian tenets, and 
was imprudent enough to do so publicly in the cathe- 
dral. After many unseemly altercations he was 
banished for life, under pain of a whipping should he 
ever again be found within the city or territory. Towards 
the Lutherans one might have thought Calvin would 
have observed some little moderation and decency, 
especially as regards the doctrine of the Eucharist, on 
which he like them was at issue with the Zuinglians. 
But Calvin has no toleration for the least departure 
from the clear and straight line of his own dogmatism 
either on the one side or the other. He acknowledged 
a real, though spiritual, presence of the body and blood 
of the Saviour to the faithful receiver of the sacrament. 
For Zuingle, whom he seems to have regarded as a 
sort of rival, he has hardly ever a good word; and 
Zuingle's opinion that the Lord's Supper is a mere 
commemorative rite, ho abhors as " profane." AVest- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 219 

phal, on the other hand, held with Luther that the 
body and blood of Christ are given in and with the 
sacrament to the faithful ; but Calvin has nothing for 
him and his notions but anger and invective, badly 
excused by the bitter apology he makes in the preface 
of one of his contributions to the controversy, that " a 
bad. ass makes a bad driver." The melancholy busi- 
ness of Servetus demands more careful notice, not less 
from its own importance than from the deep emotions 
to which it has given rise both at the time and ever 
since. 

Servetus, — whose proper name was Miguel Servede, — 
was a native of Yillanuova, in Spain. He had already 
crossed Calvin's path, as we have seen ; and the years 
subsequent to 1534 had not passed without communi- 
cation between them. Servetus was beyond question a 
clever man, with a mind acute and restless, ever craving 
after novelty, and blessed with an unwavering confidence 
in each successive development of its never-ending and 
incoherent speculations. He had studied law at Tou- 
louse ; physic at Paris ; and had dabbled in theology 
at Basle, in Italy, Germany, and wherever else he 
could find listeners for his eccentric opinions. He 
rendered one town after another too hot to hold him 
by his disputatiousness ; and at length after various 
adventures found it necessary to lay aside his own 
name and to settle down quietly at Vienne as "Dr. 
Villeneuve." In 1546 he had written his " Restitutio 
Christianismi," and submitted it to Calvin. This work 
went beyond any thing Servetus had written in its 
wild and fanatical conceits. Not content with advo- 



220 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

eating the Millennarian hypothesis, and with maintain- 
ing that the earthly reign of Christ was close at hand, 
Servetus further proclaimed himself to be the Michael 
of the Revelation who was to compass the overthrow of 
the Dragon ! We can readily imagine the scorn and 
abhorrence such blasphemous folly would excite in 
Calvin ; — Calvin who himself declined to write a Com- 
mentary on the Revelation because he was " altogether 
unable to comprehend the meaning of the very obscure 
writer of that book." Calvin had been in the habit of 
occasionally exchanging letters with Servetus on theo- 
logical subjects ; but on the receipt of the MS. of the 
" Restitutio Christianismi," he broke off the corre- 
spondence at once with a harsh epistle of reproof, 
referring Servetus to the " Institutes " for any further 
information he might require on the topics on which 
they had been in communication. Servetus retorted 
by forwarding to Calvin a copy of the " Institutes," 
garnished with a number of manuscript notes con- 
taining bitter refutations and criticisms. The hard 
words of Servetus had evidently sunk deep into Calvin's 
memory. About this time he wrote to Farel about 
him; observing that Servetus had offered to come to 
Geneva, "if he would allow him." "But," Calvin 
goes on, "I will not give any pledge; for if he do 
come, and my authority avail any thing, / mil never 
suffer him to depart alive" 

" Dr. Villeneuve " could not keep quiet and be con- 
tented to practise, even though with much success, as 
u physician, at Vienne. In an evil hour he got the 
" Restitutio " secretly printed in 1052 ; and though he 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 221 

did not circulate it thereabouts, a copy unfortunately 
reached Geneva, and fell into the hands of Calvin. At 
Geneva lived one William Trie, an exile from Lyons 
for the sake of religion. His relations, however, had 
not yet abandoned all hopes of him, and one of them, 
named Arneys, carried on an exchange of controversial 
letters with him, in one of which he pressed Trie with 
the well-worn argument from the diversities of Protes- 
tantism. Trie, who was pretty certainly advised by 
Calvin, retorted that discipline was strict at Geneva ; 
but that in Papal France, whilst the truth was 
quenched in blood, the most monstrous heresies were 
vented with impunity. He instanced the " Restitutio," 
printed amongst Arney's own neighbours at Yienne, 
and full of the grossest blasphemies against doctrines 
held sacred by all Christians, such as the Trinity. 
Arneys communicated with the ecclesiastical autho- 
rities of Yienne, and in the end Servetus was appre- 
hended and handed over to the Inquisition. The only 
point in this part of the story that we need notice is that 
the evidence on which Servetus was tried, and eventually 
convicted, as the author of the book, and condemned to 
a heretic's death by the Inquisition, was obtained by 
Arneys from Trie, and by Trie from Calvin. Calvin 
supplied some printed sheets of the " Restitutio," and a 
number of letters addressed to him in former times by 
Servetus. For the time, Servetus avoided his fate by 
making his escape from prison. What led him to the 
madness of flying for refuge to Geneva is uncertain. 
Perhaps he was only passing through on his way else- 
where, though some authorities assert that he remained 



222 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

undiscovered in the city for a month. He was on the 
very eve of departure when he was recognized by Calvin 
amongst His congregation, denounced, and arrested. 
The after proceedings are sad enough and disgraceful 
to every one concerned : to Calvin above all. The pro- 
secution was undertaken at first by La Fontaine, for- 
merly a cook, but then a student of theology and acting 
as secretary to Calvin. Thirty-eight articles of charge 
were exhibited against Servetus, most of them alleging 
heresies extracted from the " de Trinitatis Erroribus " 
and the "Restitutio;" but not a few of them of a 
personal kind, charging Servetus with insulting in his 
writings and letters various Fathers and Theologians, 
ancient and modern ; and last, but in such a place by 
no means least, the thirty-eighth count accused him of 
defaming and reviling Calvin and the Church of 
Geneva. When the charges came to be argued, it soon 
appeared that La Fontaine was no match for the veteran 
controversialist to whom he was opposed ; and he was 
accordingly summarily set aside, and Calvin, the real 
accuser throughout, entered the lists in person against 
a man who was in truth his own prisoner. Servetus in 
vain protested that if he had committed any offence at all 
it was not at Geneva, since the books incriminated had 
not been printed or circulated there. In vain did he urge 
his ignorance of the laws of the territory in which he had 
so unhappily become a sojourner, and ask for an advo- 
cate to plead for him and to guide him. In vain did 
he appeal to the higher and larger councils : in them 
Calvin's influence was not so assured, and his appeal 
was disallowed. The rigour of his imprisonment was 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



223 



gradually increased, and he was denied towards the last 
the common necessaries of cleanliness and health. Calvin 
and the pastors not only appeared in open court against 
him, but stirred up the passions of the people from their 
pulpits to demand his blood. Servetus himself acted 
a most unwise part. He was aware that strenuous 
efforts were being made outside his prison walls to save 
him, and calculated on the strength of his friends with 
a hope so sanguine as to make him too often confident 
and audacious. The Libertines, glad to lay hold of any 
handle against Calvin, made the cause of Servetus their 
own, and laboured hard to get it carried before the 
more popular assemblies where their strength lay. 
Thus Calvin was driven on in his persecution of Ser- 
vetus by strong motives of political and religious par- 
tisanship, as well as that of private animosity ; and he 
threw into the contest all his vehemence, bitterness, 
and unswerving determination. He overwhelmed Ser- 
vetus both in public court and in his prison with in- 
vectives and reproaches; which the miserable man, 
goaded by sufferings and insults, and emboldened by 
the hope of succour from Calvin's enemies in the State, 
was not slow to return in kind. To such a pitch of 
excitement was Servetus worked up, that he tried to 
change places with his persecutor, and demanded of the 
council that Calvin should be imprisoned as a heretic, 
and his goods confiscated. The end of altercations 
between such men so placed could not be doubtful. 
Servetus was on Oct. 26, 1553, condemned to be burned 
as a heretic. Calvin's legislation had left the old code 
of Geneva unaltered as regards the crime of heresy 



224 CTIITICAL ESSAYS. 

and the very next day was appointed for the execution. 
It was only on the morning of the 27th, at the time in 
fact at which he was led out to death, that Servetus, hy 
hearing the formal sentence read at the Town Hall, 
learned the dreadful fate which was on the instant 
waiting for him. " He threw himself horror-struck," 
M. Bungener tells us, " at the feet of the judges, and 
besought as a favour that he might be beheaded." His 
supplications were fruitless ; and he fell into a sort of 
stupor broken only by groans and cries for mercy. 
With a refinement of barbarity, which charity may just 
allow us to hope was mere thoughtlessness, Farel was 
the minister selected by Calvin to accompany the 
doomed man to the stake. Farel's conduct was to the 
last, as might be expected, harsh, inconsiderate, and 
unpitying. He upbraided Servetus with his errors, and 
reproached him for his obstinacy. " His sole task," says 
M. Bungener, "was to harass Servetus in his last 
moments in order to extort from him some word which 
might be considered a disavowal of his errors." When 
the victim was attached to the stake, on the little hill 
of Champel, just outside the city, and the fire was 
lighted, it was found that the executioner had, either 
from cruelty or ignorance, heaped up nothing but green 
wood ; and the bystanders, shuddering at the piercing 
shrieks which issued from the smoke, ran and threw 
on faggots, and so ended the torments of Servetus in 
about half an hour. 

About the whole of this affair the less said by Calvin's 
admirers the better. From first to last of it the con- 
duct of the great Reformer merits the most utter con- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 225 

demnation. Excuses and palliations may indeed be 
suggested, but any thing in the shape of a defence 
of him is to a candid mind out of the question. He 
might, indeed, with good reason have thought himself 
bound to demonstrate in so conspicuous an instance 
that the true reformed faith was not less jealous of 
orthodoxy than the Papacy. The taunt so often since 
levelled against Protestantism was even then in vogue, 
that it is in effect identical with atheism, and amounts 
substantially to a licence to every body to believe 
and teach what he pleases. Geneva was at the time 
the capital city, as it were, of the reformed religion 
of the Continent ; and we can readily comprehend 
the anxiety of him who represented that city in the 
eyes of Christendom to clear it from all suspicion of 
unsoundness or indifference as to the fundamental doc- 
trines of the creed. That Servetus was thus unsound is 
beyond possibility of question. He had been known for 
years in every theological coterie of Europe as a most 
daring and foul-mouthed impugner of the doctrine of 
the Trinity. He had, moreover, rejected infant bap- 
tism, a crotchet peculiarly damaging to him at that 
time, as it tended to identify him with the pestilent 
sect of the Anabaptists. Some of the doctrinal errors 
laid to his charge sound strange to us when regarded 
as items in a capital indictment, as e.g. the allegation 
that in some notes on Ptolemy's Geography he had 
questioned the statements of the Pentateuch as to the 
ancient fertility of the promised land; but statements 
like this were regarded with pious horror by the con- 
temporaries of Servetus. So far as severity can be 

Q 



xJ<JO CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

justified by detestableness of opinions in him who was the 
object of it, Calvin is entitled to the fullest allowance. 
Neither caji we doubt that the adoption of Servetus by 
the Libertines contributed greatly to enhance the harsh- 
ness of his treatment, and to ensure his destruction. 
The cause of Servetus became identified with that of 
faction and treason in the state, and of subversion and 
licence in religion and morals. Nor can we doubt that 
the Libertines thought far less of Servetus, though they 
espoused his cause, than of the defeat they would inflict 
on Calvin by delivering Calvin's enemy But such apo- 
logies do but little to dilute the black guilt in which this 
memorable deed has for ever enshrouded the name and 
the memory of the great Reformer. The stubborn facts 
remain that Servetus had crossed Calvin's path in the 
way of personal opposition twenty years before the trial 
at Geneva ; that Calvin had after an angry correspondence 
declared that if Servetus came to Geneva he should 
never leave it alive ; that Calvin had done his utmost 
to slay Servetus by the hand of the Inquisition ; that 
Calvin caused the arrest of Servetus in a city where the 
unhappy man was only tarrying for a season as a way- 
farer and fugitive, and where he had done no wrong ; 
that Calvin himself drew up and personally pressed the 
indictments; that he used his paramount influence to 
prevent the removal of the case to a court where the 
accused would have stood a better chance ; that he wrote 
to Farel whilst the trial was going on to express a hope 
that "the sentence would be capital ;" that he did nothing 
to soften the rigours of harsh imprisonment ; and, lastly, 
that he aggravated the bitter hour of a most painful death 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 227 

by forcing on the sufferer, instead of a minister of con- 
solation, the coarsest and most implacable of his foes. 
It is to the whole circumstances of the case, rather 
than to the fact that Servetus was burnt for heresy, 
that we must attribute the general execration with 
which the deed was heard of throughout Christendom. 
It seems totally useless to try, as does M. Bungener, to 
shelter Calvin behind the general opinion and practice 
of the age. The reformed Swiss churches were asked 
their advice whilst sentence was not yet passed ; and it 
is a misrepresentation to sum up their judgments as 
does M. Bungener. " There was a complete and awful 
unanimity," he tells us, — " Servetus must die ! " In 
truth and in fact not one single church distinctly ad- 
vised the execution of Servetus. Their letters are worded 
with caution, and are really nothing more than exhor- 
tations to the council of Geneva to be firm and severe 
with so pestilent a heretic. Bullinger, indeed, advised 
capital punishment; so did Beza, Calvin's close ally 
and eventual biographer and successor ; so did Farel, 
reminding Calvin, in a letter which no truly Christian 
minister ought ever to have written, that Servetus had 
been " his greatest enemy." But the general sentiment 
of the reformed churches was one of utter condem- 
nation of the deed. They thought, as we do, that 
Servetus was done to death by a man who was his 
private foe, and that in the most horrible of ways ; 
under pretext, indeed, of religion and justice, but with 
a premeditation which made these sacred names a 
mockery, and by a magistracy which was little better 
than a band of Calvin's creatures. The history of these 

q 2 



228 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

times leaves, indeed, little for any party to boast of in 
the matter of toleration. In the days when Calvin was 
compassing the death of Servetus at Geneva his own 
co-religionists were undergoing martyrdom in France ; 
and our own land saw Anabaptists harassed with fire 
and sword by Edward VI., the adherents of the national 
church similarly treated by Queen Mary, and not long 
after the Papists persecuted by Elizabeth. But the 
plea drawn from the intolerant spirit of the times will 
not go very far in the particular case before us. Calvin 
had himself years before eloquently expounded the 
duties of toleration ; and, at the very time when he was 
hunting Servetus to his doom, he was writing letters 
full of invective against the cruelties practised on his 
own friends. And, lastly, we cannot but think that 
one who had in so many things revolutionized whole 
systems of theory and practice might, on a point which 
had clearly been distinctly brought before him, have 
been expected to be somewhat in advance of his con- 
temporaries. The arrest, the trial, and the execution of 
Servetus are, therefore, a series of crimes of which the 
guilt belongs almost undividedly to Calvin, and which 
form a deep, dark, and ineffaceable blot on his memory. 
Calvin's health had been always frail, and his hard 
labours and many anxieties at Geneva rapidly ruined it. 
In 1509 he had a violent attack of ague, through which 
he was but poorly nursed, if nursed at all. The follow- 
ing years witnessed him yet making head against his 
tasks, though " pains in his head, pains in his legs, 
pains in his stomach, spitting of blood, difficulty of 
breathing, the gout, and the stone," gave even more clear 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 229 

tokens of the approaching end. He continued, however, 
to preach, but in Feb. 1564, a violent fit of coughing, 
with the rupture of a blood-vessel, choked his utterance, 
and put an end for ever to his public ministrations. 
He lingered on, however, till May, in quiet and calm 
decay. He received the magistrates who, on his asking 
an audience, paid a visit to " the humble dwelling of 
the Bue des Chanoines, in all the pomp of public 
ceremony ;" he saw the pastors, and exhorted them, as 
he had done the magistrates, in a body; and finally 
" gave his hand to each one after the other, which was 
with such anguish and bitterness of heart in every one, 
that I cannot even recall it to mind," says Beza, " with- 
out extreme sadness ;" and finally, on the 27th, peace- 
fully expired. His will had been made a few days before ; 
and his whole effects when sold under it brought but 
300 crowns. An immense procession of citizens and 
strangers accompanied him to the cemetery. "The 
Church wept," as M. Bungener observes, " for her head, 
and the State for her chief citizen and surest protector 
under Grod." "His defects, which had already been 
effaced by his glory and his services, had completely 
disappeared in the pure halo with which death encircles 
the Christian's brow ; and willingly would all those 
multitudes have graven upon a magnificent monument 
the testimony of their unreserved admiration, their 
deep gratitude, and their profound veneration. But he 
had enjoined that every thing should be done ' after the 
customary fashion/ and that customary fashion, which 
was observed almost down to the present day, was that 
no monument should be raised upon any grave, however 



230 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

illustrious the deceased might be. The earth alone, 
therefore, covered the remains of Calvin, and he had no 
other official epitaph, than this half-line inscribed by 
the side of his name in the Consistorial register: 
* Went to God, Saturday the 27th/ Were his bones 
left longer in peace than those of the vulgar dead? 
None can say. At all events, for more than two cen- 
turies that grave has been dug over again and again, 
like the rest, by the sexton's spade ; and for less than 
twenty years a small black stone has marked the spot 
where Calvin perhaps reposed, for it is only a tradi- 
tion." — Bungener, p. 248. 

Calvin's theology and the institutions in which he 
embodied it are certainly unlovely, and they are in no 
small degree also narrow, shallow, and hard. But they 
are throughout pervaded by an intense faith and an 
unflinching consistency; and they supplied perhaps 
the only bulwarks able, humanly speaking, to withstand 
the refluent wave of Romanism which, in Calvin's 
latter days, came upon the Reformed churches of the 
Continent. By the middle of the sixteenth century 
the Reformation had been brought to a stand in Europe, 
and the adherents of the Papacy were re-uniting their 
scattered ranks, and preparing for a vigorous and con- 
certed effort to regain their lost ground. The order 
of the Jesuits had arisen to lead and direct their 
efforts ; an agency of consummate skill and of regulated 
versatility ; and formidable not less from numbers than 
from its great and rapid extension. The powerful re- 
action which thus set in carried many churches back ; 
but it was throughout the greater part of Protestant 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



231 



Europe successfully confronted, and nowhere more 
successfully than where the Calvinistic system had 
occupied the ground. That system gathered up into 
a definite organized shape, the faith, the Church life, 
and the private practice of Protestantism; and gave 
unity, definiteness, and point to those aspirations after 
purer and less artificial modes of religion which Luther 
and Zuingle had aroused. After Calvin had done his 
work the Romish theologian had no longer the ad- 
vantage of contrasting the clear authoritative decrees 
of his own Church with the dissonant and dubious 
voices of her multifarious opponents. Then stood forth 
against Papal infallibility a champion with a summons 
equally peremptory, and at least equally imposing ; 
and one too whose followers were equally resolute and 
fanatical. Calvinism manifested the reality of its hold 
on the nations, by working through their religion upon 
their politics and their public institutions. Dr. D'Au- 
bigne describes its influence, not without a certain 
pardonable pride and exaggeration, in his opening 
pages, as follows : — " The great movements in the way 
of law and liberty, effected by the people in the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries, have certain relations 
with the Reformation of Calvin, which it is impossible 
to ignore. As soon as Guy de Bres and many others 
returned from Geneia to the Low Countries, the great 
contest between the rights of the people and the re- 
volutionary and bloody despotism of Philip II. began ; 
heroic struggles took place, and the creation of the 
United Provinces was their glorious termination. John 
Knox returned to his native Scotland from Geneva, 



232 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

where he had spent several years ; then popery, arbi- 
trary power, and the immorality of a French court 
made way in that noble country for that enthusiasm for 
the gospel, liberty, and holiness, which has never 
since failed to kindle the ardent souls of its energetic 
people. 

" Numberless friends and disciples of Calvin carried 
with them every year into France the principles of 
civil and political liberty, and a fierce struggle began 
with popery and the despotism, of the Yalois first, and 
afterwards of the Bourbons. And though these princes 
sought to destroy the liberties for which the Hugenots 
shed their blood, their imperishable traces still remain 
among that illustrious nation. The Englishmen who, 
during the bloody persecution of Mary, had sought an 
asylum at Geneva imbibed there a love for the gospel 
and for liberty. When they returned to England, a 
fountain gushed out beneath their footsteps. The 
waters confined by Elizabeth to a narrow channel, rose 
under her successors, and swiftly became an impetuous 
roaring flood, whose insolent waves swept away the 
throne itself in their violent course. But restored to 
their bed by the wise hand of William of Orange, the 
dashing torrent sank into a smiling stream, bearing 
prosperity and life afar. Lastly, Calvin was the founder 
of the greatest of republics. ThB pilgrims who left 
their country in the reign of James I., and, landing 
on the barren shores of New England, founded popu- 
lous and mighty colonies, are his sons, his direct and 
legitimate sons ; and that American nation, which we 
have seen growing so rapidly, boasts as its father 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 233 

the humble reformer on the shores of the Le- 
man." — D'Aubigne, vol. i. pp. 5—7 

INTor must we limit the effects of Calvinism to those 
lands where it effected an express and recognized lodg- 
ment. In our own country it must be credited, as Dr. 
D'Aubigne hints above, with all that we are wont to 
associate in literature, tone of thought and feeling, and 
our daily habits with Puritanism. It would be utterly 
in vain to deny that the ascendancy of Puritanism in 
the seventeenth century, short-lived as it was, worked 
a very marked change in the English nation. The 
national character was altered thereby in such a way 
that some of its most striking traits, as they at present 
suggest themselves to foreigners, were infused into it 
between the beginning of Queen Elizabeth's reign and 
the death of Cromwell. The pilgrims of the May- 
flower carried, indeed, with them to the western world 
the prolific seeds of Presbyterianism, and the kind of 
aristocratic republicanism which best consorts with 
Presbyterianism ; but enough was left behind in Eng- 
land to leaven our people in perpetuity. It only needs, 
by way of illustration, to point to the popular notions 
amongst religious persons in England as to the observ- 
ance of Sunday. We by no means say that those 
notions are incorrect or unfounded; but assuredly, 
whatever be their warrant, they came in with Puri- 
tanism. Few who are well acquainted with our poor 
will deny that in large tracts of country what religion 
there is amongst them is of a Puritan type. And 
though, in 1662, the reaction was strong, yet our 
forms of worship retain, and are likelv to retain, several 



234 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

peculiarities which they owe to the disciples of Calvin. 
He set the example of choosing for each sermon a well- 
defined and single text and subject. He almost created 
the congregational psalm -singing, which is now so much 
cultivated in England, and has always flourished in 
more strictly Calvinistic communities. "Psalm-singer 
and Reformed were synonymous words in France," 
M. Bungener tells us. The ejected of 1662 were dis- 
tinctly Calvinistic in their theology and church system ; 
and it was through them that non -conformity acquired 
that respectable and recognized standing within the 
pale of English Christianity, which it has now so long 
had. In other Christian lands there is scarce any real 
religion except that which follows the type of the 
national church. Other modes have either died away 
or been uprooted by persecution. Amongst ourselves 
we have a form of doctrine and discipline, which is not 
only recognized by the State, but exclusively established; 
and yet side by side with it exist manifold other 
denominations not less secured by law in liberty of 
conscience than the Church is in its privileges. 
Whether this national peculiarity be an opprobrium 
to our Church, and a calamity to the cause of the 
Gospel amongst us, or whether it indirectly work 
good in stimulating our clergy by a wholesome rivalry 
and competition, may be a question. Certain it is that 
our modern non-conformists must thank Calvin for 
imparting that importance and cohesion to their prin- 
ciples which enabled them to win their way, first to 
toleration, and afterwards to a political power and 
religious influeuce so great as once to overthrow, and 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 235 

more than once to threaten, the very existence of the 
Church as a national institution. 

And yet admitting all this to the full, it is easy to see 
that M. Eungener, in common with many other con- 
tinental Protestants, vastly overrates, or rather utterly 
mistakes, the importance of Calvin as regards the English 
Reformation. Speaking of the pastor Des Gallars, who 
was sent on request of Elizabeth's Privy Council to take 
charge of the French Protestant refugees in London 
about 1560, M. Bungener says : " Des Gallars remained 
three years in London ; and we see him, on his return, 
charged to bring back to Calvin and Geneva the most 
lively testimonies of the gratitude of the English. 
Thus there was established between England and Geneva 
that close alliance which was and still is sealed by the 
great name of the reformer. The mighty monarchy 
and the little republic were to be sisters before God, 
sisters even before men, so much does moral grandeur 
efface, even in the eyes of the world, every inequality ; 
and if one of the two had to give up the name of sister 
for that of mother, England would give that name to 
the city of Calvin."— P. 279. 

Now it is clear that our English Reformers, Cranmer 
and his associates, owe nothing whatever to Calvin. 
Whether we speak of their formularies of doctrine, 
or of their ritual arrangements, it is demonstrable 
in either case that they borrowed nothing from Cal- 
vinistic sources, that the few new elements they did 
introduce belong to quite another and an opposite 
school of Protestantism from that of Geneva, and that 
they worked altogether on principles essentially different 



236 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

from those adopted by Calvin. As regards forms of 
worship, indeed, Calvin was as much an enemy of what 
is termed*" free prayer " as any high churchman ; but 
in drawing up his " Directory " for the use of his con- 
gregations in 1545, he chose to become an author rather 
than a compiler ; and regarding the ancient liturgies 
of his church as utterly and incurably tainted with the 
corruptions of Romanism, he made a clean sweep of 
them all, and proceeded to build up a totally different 
system with new materials. The altars and images at 
Geneva were of course abolished ; but with them went 
the stone fonts ; and the church bells were cast into 
cannon. Our own Reformers, on the contrary, did not 
aim at originality in these matters. They altered only 
where was clear and strong cause for doing so. They 
merely abridged, corrected, simplified, and re-arranged 
the ancient and established English offices and ceremonies. 
The language of the original preface to our Prayer Book, 
which stands now as part of the introductory matter, 
and is entitled " Of Ceremonies," is very remarkable. 
It not only betrays a total unconsciousness of any break 
of continuity in our devotional usages, such as we are 
apt to suppose must have occurred at the formal and 
legal establishment of the Reformation, but distinctly 
implies the substantial identity of the revised offices 
with those which were to be now superseded. So far 
from deferring to Geneva, it was to the reformed 
Breviary of Cardinal Quignon, published at Rome in 
1536, and sanctioned by the Popes in succession until 
superseded by the Trent Breviary, that Cranmer and 
his coadjutors went for some of the main improvements 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



237 



they introduced ; and from that Breviary they actually 
copied, in some passages verbatim, the announcement 
of their reasons for revision and of the principles 
observed in conducting it, which this preface contained. 
The second reformed Prayer Book of 1552 represents 
indeed a period when the more thorough-going party 
attained its greatest strength in the Church, and the 
foreign Protestants had a very considerable influence both 
at court and with the bishops. Had Edward YI. lived a 
few years longer, it is possible enough that the English 
reformation might have been assimilated to the Genevan 
type. But even the Prayer Book of 1552 is on the 
whole, like its predecessor, conservative in its tenor. 
It carries, indeed, further than heretofore the omission 
of ceremonies and usages which had unhappily been 
associated with superstition, and it abolished some things 
which the maturer judgment of the Church in later 
times has replaced ; but the main body of the old 
worship of the Church was left as it has since remained 
intact. Even in the Prayer Book of 1552, thus repre- 
senting the nearest approximation which our Church 
as a community has ever made towards the principles of 
Geneva, there are scarce one or two slight and doubtful 
features of likeness to Calvin's Directory. The peni- 
tential introduction (Sentences, Exhortation, Confes- 
sion, and Absolution) prefixed to our daily offices in 
1552, and the use of the Decalogue in the Communion 
Office which belongs to the'same date, have been thought 
by some to have been suggested by a Latin translation 
and adaptation of Calvin's Directory, introduced into 
London in 1551, for the use of the French Protestant 



238 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

refugees by Valerandus Pollanus, Calvin's successor in 
the pastorate at Strasburg, but afterwards an exile. 
That the resemblances pointed out really exist there 
can be no question : yet they are slight and transient ; 
and the ritualists have abundantly shown that precedents 
of vastly greater antiquity and authority than Calvin and 
Pollanus, may be quoted for the whole of the additions 
in question. The probability is that the want of some 
such opening of the services had been felt since 1549 ; 
that the ancient and primitive usages were known to 
warrant it ; and that the compiler of the introduction 
worked with the Directory of Pollanus before him, 
though how cautiously and independently he used it will 
be clear to any one who will be at the trouble to com- 
pare the one with the other. We might note especially 
the language of the Confession, where, if the English 
Reformer had the Directory in his mind at all, it was as 
a warning rather than an example ; for the language of 
the Directory implies doctrine about original sin, which 
our own Church has never sanctioned. 

The Articles of Religion are as little Calvinistic as 
the Prayer Book. It is difficult, indeed, to wrap up 
more blunders in a few words than may be found in 
the celebrated saying, "We have a Popish Liturgy, 
Calvinistic Articles, and an Arminian clergy." The 
charge, as regards the Articles, is founded on the very 
greaA but very common error of styling all kinds of 
Predestinarians " Calvinists." With as much truth 
might it be said that Mormonites are Methodists, be- 
cause neither of them are Romanists. There were 
many strong Predestinarians before Calvin ; and since 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 239 

his days there have been many called Calvinists, who 
would have utterly repudiated more than one cardinal 
and energetic element of his teaching, and have been 
entirely disowned by him. Arminius, to take one con- 
spicuous instance, held language on the subject of the 
Divine decrees which would justify us, in the ordinary 
loose way of speaking, if we were to characterize him 
roundly as a Calvinist 1 Yet it is in this, as in other 
matters, not without reason that Calvinism, the name of 
the species, has extended itself to the whole genus. In 
Calvinism we have the most stern, uncompromising, and 
thorough-going exhibition of Predestinarian opinions. 
Election is the Alpha from which the whole theology sets 
out, and the Omega to which it mounts and in which it is 
closed. Every other tenet, fact, or truth which comes 
across the theory of Decrees in its logical march is set 
aside, annihilated, or explained away. Yet Calvinism 
is but one of many dogmatic systems in which the doc- 
trine of Predestination has played a conspicuous part ; 
and it is one, too, which from its hard and sharp out- 
lines should be least of all confounded with any other. 
" The Five Points " of Calvinism are the essential cha- 

1 Take, e. g. the following from his fifteenth Public Disputation, 
" De Divina, Prsedestinatione :" " Prsedestinatio est decretum bene- 
placiti Dei in Christo, quo apud se ab seterno statuit fideles vita 
seterna donare. Fideles autem dicimus, non qui tales propriis 
meritis aut viribus erant futuri, sed qui Dei beneficio gratuito et 
peculiari in Christum erant credituri." It is scarce possible to 
doubt that Arminius, the great adversary of Calvinism in his day, 
had before him in writing the former of these sentences, Section 2 of 
the Disputation, our own seventeenth Article, which is often thought 
so decidedly Calvinistic. 



240 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

racteristics, which he who holds in their entirety, and he 
only, is a Calvinist, and he who rejects in any part or 
degree is*none. These points are, (1) Predestination, of 
some individuals to life, of the others to damnation; 
(2) Particular Redemption, i. e. that the Saviour died for 
the elect only ; (3) Original Sin ; (4) Irresistible Grrace ; 
(5) Final Perseverance. There are few candid persons 
who will deny that the tenth of our original forty-two 
Articles was utterly contrarient to the fourth of these 
points, or that the present sixteenth Article is against 
the fifth of them, or that the second and thirty-first 
Articles are not fairly irreconcileable with the second 
of them. The language of the ninth of our Articles, 
too, about original sin, comes short by a vast interval of 
that of the Calvinistic confessions 8 ; and in no part of 
our authorized Church documents is there a word to be 
found which can be wrested into approval of the ter- 
rible tenet of Reprobation. The seventeenth of our 
Articles, which seems superficially so Calvinistic, is not 
in reality so at all. It was not borrowed from Calvinistic 
sources ; and, indeed, it seems to have been an original 
composition. When analyzed it will be found to consist 

3 Compare the language of our ninth Article with that, e. g. of 
the Westminster Confession. This, in its sixth Article, declares man 
by his fall as " wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul 
and body ;" and as " utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite 
to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil." In similar terms the 
Confessio Helvetica, Art. VIII., describes our "nativa corruptio, 
qu& concupiscentiis pravis immersi, et a bono aversi, ad omne 
malum propensi, pleni omni nequitia, diffidentia, contemptu et odio 
Dei, nihil boni ex nobis ipsis facere, immo ne cogitare quidem 
possumus." 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 241 

of little more than a series of texts, the upshot of which 
is to show us that when living in obedience to the laws 
of God, we may humbly trust that God hath chosen us 
unto life ; to discourage the entertainment of any other 
thoughts or hopes on the subject than such as these ; 
and to exhort all to take the promises of God in the 
broad form in which they are made, and to act upon 
His commands without cavil. The anxiety of the 
framers of the Article was certainly not to lay down clear 
definitions on those subjects which Calvin regarded as 
fundamental to faith and piety, but to guard against 
fatalist perversions and abuses. The seventeenth Article 
is scarcely even Augustinian in its tenor, much less 
Calvinistic ; and between Augustine and Calvin there is 
a gulf fixed which might seem to some not wide, but 
which in truth places them in two totally different 
regions of theology and church life. 

Augustine had in his days to deal with a new and 
dangerous tendency to overrate the power of unassisted 
human nature for good, and to ascribe an intrinsic and 
proper merit to man's works. To assert, as Pelagius 
and his followers did, that we may obtain salvation at 
our pleasure if we will, was obviously to render the 
Gospel superfluous. The heresy may perhaps have 
arisen in an honest desire to quicken men, amidst the 
decay of primitive love and zeal which the fifth century 
saw, to holier and stricter lives, and to more self- 
denying endeavour; but its deadly character is none 
the less certain because its inventor meant well. Au- 
gustine opposed it with the determination and energy 
which the crisis required ; and, to shut out its perver- 



242 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

sions, insisted far more emphatically than any preceding 
doctor of the church had done on the naturally fallen and 
helpless stale of man, on our need of Divine help from 
first to last in the work of salvation, and on the sovereign 
power of grace in that work. Viewing his writings from 
the stand-point we occupy since the Calvinistic contro- 
versies, we may perhaps without presumption think that 
this great father might well have spoken with more of 
caution and qualification on these high themes. But 
his purpose was to enforce and to extol the necessity 
and the supremacy of that grace which others had un- 
scripturally undervalued and dispensed with. His pur- 
pose was to vindicate for God, the rightful owner, those 
impulses for good, and that steady perseverance in 
well-doing, which had been arrogantly claimed as 
belonging to self-sufficing man. He never cries up 
the naked Divine decrees against God's own ap- 
pointed instruments and channels of grace; and it is 
here that his Predestinarianism parts so unequivocally 
from that of Calvin. When once it is held as a primary 
axiom that a sentence is passed as regards each and 
every man before his birth, whereby he is inevitably 
fated either to salvation or to perdition, the means of 
grace fall at once into the background, and with them 
the whole machinery by which men are brought into 
the fold of the church, and nourished when there. 
Augustine unquestionably taught that baptism duly 
ministered conferred a mighty spiritual gift on each 
and every receiver who did not oppose a bar. Calvin 
could not consistently teach so ; for grace, if given at 
all, was in his view, and in his view first of all Chris- 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



243 



tian doctors, irresistible and irrevocable. To teach, e. g. 
broadly, then, that baptism carried with it any real 
blessing would have been tantamount, on his principle, 
to asserting that every baptized person must be saved. 
It is not a little remarkable that Calvin's doctrine 
about baptism furnishes the only conspicuous example 
of inconsistency and prevarication to be found through- 
out his opinions. He was far from intending utterly to 
reject primitive authority ; he had the dislike of a rival 
for the Zuinglian doctrine of the sacraments; yet if a 
man's salvation must be absolutely and simply de- 
pendent on a secret and eternal decree of God, much 
more must the efficacy of the means of grace be so ; 
and the outward sign could have no proper and in- 
trinsic connexion with the inward benefit. Calvin's 
followers, then, were but following the lead of Calvin's 
own irresistible logic when they went one step further 
in these matters than he, and held simply that the 
sacraments are signs of grace already given, and posi- 
tive ordinances which the faithful will observe out of 
love and obedience, rather than as moral necessaries of 
salvation. Thus did Calvinism prey upon and eat away 
the sacramental system of the church ; and it was only 
acting with an instinct thoroughly of a piece with its 
theory when it broke short off the line of succession from 
the Christian generations before it, and inaugurated for 
itself de novo a doctrine, a discipline, and a regimen 
peculiar to itself. 

It is needless to say that during the Reformation 
period there was no father so constantly in men's 
mouths as Augustine. The corruptions of the later 

r 2 



244 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

mediaeval church, formulated and systematized by the 
Schoolmen, had in fact resulted in practical evils sub- 
stantially identical with those against which Augus- 
tine was driven to contend. The teaching to which 
the people were accustomed, however explained by the 
theologians, had resulted in something which was 
essentially indistinguishable from Pelagianism. Men 
were in effect exhorted to win heaven by their works. 
Against such errors the writings of Augustine furnished 
a perfect magazine of arguments, and his name and 
authority in the Church were second to none. Hence 
the constant appeals to him by the Protestant contro- 
versialists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ; 
hence the reintroduction of the old troubles about Pre- 
destination and Election ; and hence, as it seems to us, 
the necessity for framing an article amongst the doc- 
trinal definitions of the Church of England on this 
perplexing subject. It was, we can hardly doubt, to 
guard against extremes and abuses into which those who 
had as it were sat at the feet of Augustine might easily 
fall, that our seventeenth Article was designed. 

It is in truth little less than chronologically 
impossible to maintain that our Reformers, in the 
Articles of 1552, intended to settle the Calvinistic doc- 
trine of Election, or any thing about it. For, in truth, 
the principal and pertinent elements of that doctrine 
had not come into notice when those Articles were 
drawn up. There is historical evidence to show that 
our Articles were designed, compiled, and communicated 
by Archbishop Cranmer to the bishops, in the course of 
1551, though several months passed before they were 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 245 

finally ratified and published. Now the work of Calvin, 
De ceternd Dei Prcedestinatione, bears date according to 
its dedication January 1, 1552. This work was the 
result of his controversy with Bolsec on the subject of 
Predestination, and of the agitation and discussion of 
that doctrine which had arisen in 1551 amongst the 
Swiss churches. It is quite true that some years 
previously, viz. in 1543, Calvin had dealt with the 
subject of Grace and Free Will in his answer to 
Pighius ; neither can we concur with those who regard 
his doctrine of Predestination as a discovery of his 
later years. But it is equally true, on the other hand, 
that up to 1552, without shunning a topic to which no 
little space is allotted in Scripture, he had handled it 
with most wise caution, prudence, and reserve ; and 
had by no means, as he subsequently did, developed 
it methodically, or laid it down as above all things 
to be inculcated and applied by the preacher. The 
work against Pighius was not a complete tractate on 
its subject; and the earlier editions of the Institutes 
by no means assign that leading place to Predestination 
and Election, which most readers might expect. With 
Calvin, as with others, controversy first drew out into 
clear conception and emphatic expression the dis- 
puted tenets ; and it was only too characteristic of the 
man to assert, with ever-increasing positiveness and 
severity, positions which though not new to him he 
found to be perpetually challenged by others. Whilst 
our Articles were under consideration, the Eeformed 
churches were as yet at one on every leading principle, 
if we except the sacraments only. The doctrine of the 



246 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

divine decrees was only just beginning to cause a stir 
in Switzerland ; and the agitation did not reach our 
own land imtil the reign of Queen Mary was over. 
It is a very striking fact, to which attention has been 
drawn by Archbishop Laurence (Bampton Lectures, 
pp. 44, 45), that whilst the copious work of Foxe, the 
Acts and Monuments, goes with no little detail into . 
the opinions of the several martyrs during the Marian 
persecution, and into the controversies in which they 
were engaged, Predestination does not appear in it as 
a moot question, nor is Calvin so much as alluded to 
throughout. Those who suffered were charged some- 
times with the heresies of Luther, sometimes with those 
of Zuingle, but not with the peculiar dogmas of Geneva. 
In truth, the influence and reputation of Calvin, and 
the heats and debates to which his Predestinarian 
views gave rise, belong, so far as England is concerned, 
to a stage of our Church history clearly subsequent to 
that under consideration, and broadly distinguished 
from it. Cranmer and his coadjutors aimed at defining 
in our national confession of faith the position of the 
Church of England as regards the adversaries who 
then stood forth against her, the Romanists, on the one 
hand, and the Sectaries, principally the Anabaptists, 
on the other. They neither did, nor, unless they had 
had the gift of prophecy, could intend to determine 
either on the one side or the other the Quinqu articular 
controversy. 

Far different was the state of things after the re- 
formed faith had been reinstated by Queen Elizabeth. 
The exiles of Mary's reign came home again with the 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



247 



accession of her sister in great numbers. They had 
been hospitably sheltered in the day of their trouble 
by their continental brethren, amongst whom those of 
the Swiss churches had honourably distinguished them- 
selves by their kind offices. They returned fascinated, 
as might be expected, by the imposing system of doc- 
trine which Calvin had by this time developed to its 
full proportions, and had pushed to ascendancy amongst 
the Swiss and neighbouring Protestant churches ; and 
they were not less enamoured of the " godly dis- 
cipline " and institutions in which that doctrine was 
embodied and applied. The necessary ejection of re- 
actionary bishops and incumbents obliged our rulers 
to fill many sees and parishes from the band of the 
returned exiles ; and Calvinism thus gained, for the 
first time, a broad and firm footing amongst our au- 
thorized teachers, and in the religious thought of the 
nation. A great change, as regards the general esti- 
mation of Calvin in England, quickly took place. In 
King Edward's time we find him tendering advice to 
the Protector Somerset, and to Cranmer ; and evidently 
anxious to influence, if not to guide, the course of the 
Reformation, then actively proceeding in our Church. 
His overtures however were completely neglected ; and 
our Reformers turned for such advice and help as they 
needed to Melancthon and the Lutherans. But in 
Queen Elizabeth's time the powerful Calvinistic ele- 
ment introduced after 1558 began to work. " The In- 
stitutes" became ere long a popular, and at length a 
standard treatise, and were commonly used as a text- 
book for divinity students at the universities and by 



248 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

bishops' chaplains. "Of what account the Master of 
the Sentences was in the Church of Rome, the same 
and more amongst the preachers of reformed churches 
Calvin had purchased; so that the perfectest divines 
were judged they which were skilfullest in Calvin's 
writings. His books almost the very canon to judge 
both doctrine and discipline by." — Hooker, Preface, ii. 
8. "What should the world doe with the old musty 
doctors? Alleage Scripture, and shew it alleaged in 
the sense that Calvin alloweth, and it is of more force 
in any man's defense, and to the proofe of any asser- 
tion, than if ten thousand Augustines, Jeromes, Chry- 
sostomes, Cyprians, or whosoever els were brought 
foorth. Doe we not daily see that men are accused 
of heresie for holding that which the fathers held, 
and that they never are cleere, if they find not some- 
what in Calvin to justify themselves?" — MS. note of 
Hooker, in the title-page of " A Christian Letter," &c. 
quoted in Keble's note as above. 

Yet even in 1563 and 1571, when Calvinism was 
popular and powerful amongst us, and the Articles of 
Religion were thoroughly and carefully revised, no 
infusion of Genevan doctrine into them took place. 
One or two omissions were made by way of conciliation 
to the more ardent Reformers, and one or two others 
to the more moderate Romanists ; but the wary pilots, 
who then guided the ecclesiastical fortunes of England, 
kept as clear as ever of Swiss precedents. In truth, 
Archbishop Matthew Parker, and those on whom he 
principally relied, were not of the band of the Marian 
exiles. They were far more observant of the policy 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



249 



of Cranmer and of Kidley, and far more watchful of 
the principles of primitive antiquity, than desirous to 
remodel their doctrine upon a Predestinarian basis, 
or to build up a discipline after the pattern urged on 
them by Calvinistic zealots. In fact they toned down 
in one or two slight, but significant points, the lan- 
guage of the seventeenth Article 3 ; and for what they 
required in the way of new matter, resorted to the 
Lutheran confession of Wirtemburg as their predeces- 
sors had to that of Augsburg. 

Towards the close of Elizabeth's reign, the Predesti- 
narian party within our Church attained its greatest 
influence. The two Archbishops were decidedly friendly 
to it ; and no little disfavour and even persecution befell 
those who ventured to question the received dogmatism. 
The Articles of Religion were naturally found to be 
obscure and defective; and to speak on some points 
" very dangerously/ ' The Lambeth Articles of 1595, 
the " Nine Assertions Orthodoxal," were beyond doubt 
intended as an addition to our formularies, such as 
should give unchallenged and perpetual possession of 
the Church to the then popular school. This attempt 
failed; the Puritans, disappointed in their hopes of 
revolutionizing the national Church after their pattern, 
gradually but decidedly seceded from her ; and taking 

3 The words " in Christ " were added to the expression, " those 
whom He hath chosen out of mankind," in order apparently to 
avoid lending any appearance of sanction to the dogma of arbitrary 
decrees. In the last paragraph a no less remarkable omission was 
made. Originally that paragraph began thus: "Furthermore, 
although the decrees of 'predestination are unknown to us, yet we 
must receive," &c. The words in italics were left out in 1563. 



250 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

up a position of antagonism, delivered her for ever 
from any fears that Calvinism would gain the upper 
hand withinlier pale ; but did so at the cost of a terrible 
conflict, wherein both altar and throne fell for a time 
before the stern and gloomy but energetic and organized 
fanaticism which Calvinism seems above all other 
schemes of faith to inspire. 

Our Church then has given no formal sanction, nor 
any thing approaching to it, to the "Five Points." 
The utmost that can be claimed is, that her doctrinal 
formularies are framed in such a spirit of moderation, 
as to permit beneath their broad statements the holding 
of Calvinism as not unlawful and prohibited. Yet if 
the Articles are patient of a Calvinistic interpretation, 
they are certainly not more than patient of it; they 
assuredly do not solicit it. Not only their remarkable 
omission of cardinal points in the Predestinarian scheme, 
but the general tenor of their teaching upon Baptism, 
upon the Atonement, and upon Original Sin, are averse 
from such construction. In this point of view a Cal- 
vinistic theologian must ever regard the Articles as un- 
satisfactory, halting, and even inconsistent. The same 
reproaches must be borne by Augustine and all his fol- 
lowers up to Calvin. Can any thing, if we look at it as 
mere matter of argument, be more illogical than to lead 
off in theologizing with emphatic declarations about the 
sovereignty of grace, and the feebleness of the human 
will; and then to allow that of those born again by 
the gift of grace, very many are lost after all, and that 
because their will did not co-operate ? Yet something 
of this sort Augustine and his more Catholic followers 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



251 



have maintained. It is only removing the difficulty 
one step further back, leaving it utterly unsolved, 
to invent an election within the elect ; and to suggest, 
as in some of his later works Augustine seems to do, 
that of those called to grace many do not attain to life 
because there has not been vouchsafed to them the 
further and higher vocation to glory. If we start with 
the principle that grace is supreme and solitary in the 
work of salvation, we are argumentatively shut up to 
the conclusion that grace is, if given at all, irrevocable 
and irresistible. Grace is given only by the will of 
God : " and who hath resisted His will ? " 

Such reasoning has always seemed to a certain class 
of minds unanswerable ; and we have no mind to 
quarrel with that verdict. But it only seems to us to 
demonstrate on the one hand that that same reasoning 
is misapplied in these high and mysterious subjects ; 
and on the other that Calvinism is a system which is 
essentially rationalistic in character. It is quite pos- 
sible in divine philosophy to start with most indubitable 
principles, to draw inferences from them in which no 
logical flaw can be found, and yet to be landed after all 
in consequences which are clearly erroneous and repug- 
nant to Scripture. The Church universal, indeed, has 
a promise from her Head and founder, that she shall be 
guided in such questions of doctrine as in the course of 
her warfare she may have to entertain and to resolve. 
But the individual theologian can claim no such 
guarantee ; and when he takes in hand to systematize 
and to construct dogma, he is liable to all those short- 
comings and miscarriages which affect man's under- 



252 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

standing in any other employment of it. Those who 
know most of the ways of God are, like children on the 
brink of the ocean, ignorant of infinitely more than 
they see. It is few minds that can master and survey 
at once even the several tracts of divine truth which are 
revealed ; and there are almost if not altogether none 
who can adjust the manifold parts of it in their due rela- 
tions and proportions. A theologian, therefore, is always 
and necessarily wrong if he insists on imposing as God's 
truth a scheme of belief which, however logical and 
scientific, is in all its details and applications of human 
authorship. 

The cardinal vice of the Calvinistic theology has 
been often pointed out. It lays hold of the grand 
truths connected with God's sovereignty and man's 
impotence for good ; and constructs a system thereon as 
if these were the only principles relevant to faith and 
piety, or at least as if none other could rank with them 
in dignity and practical value. Reasoning from these 
truths, the Calvinist stretches his daring deductions far 
beyond the proper province of the human understand- 
ing, and far beyond the limits of Revelation ; and under- 
takes to lay down for us what have been and are from 
and to all eternity the counsels as regards our salvation 
of Him whose outgoings are from everlasting, and " Ilis 
judgments like the great deep." " Thus and thus must 
God have decreed ; thus and thus and on these grounds 
will He adjudge at the end of all things." The several 
members of the argument move on like the files of a 
well-appointed army, serried and irresistible; what 
seems available is assimilated at once and falls into place ; 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 



253 



what withstands is thrust aside or swept away. In the 
end we are brought to a religious fatalism, which can 
hardly, by a happy inconsistency, of which we gladly 
allow that Calyinists are constantly guilty, be other than 
destructive of all those beliefs and motives whereby our 
hands are quickened to good and our lives preserved 
from apathy and despair. 

There is a certain sort of men, narrow in mind but 
keen and active, with little genius but a fair share 
of ratiocinative faculties, with a hold on what they 
do know all the faster because they know only half the 
truth, who will always tend towards Calvinism. For 
similar reasons this scheme of religion has an attrac- 
tion for very many of us towards the decline of life. 
Imagination has then ceased to disport itself with the 
freshness and exuberance which it had in early years ; 
the passions have grown cooler ; the intellect takes the 
lead, and finds congenial exercise in the elaborate and 
rigorous reasonings which characterize Oalvinistic theo- 
logy; then the world, too, has proved both puzzling 
and disappointing ; endeavours after self- discipline and 
improvement of others have seemed to bear but scanty 
fruit ; and the religious Stoicism of Geneva presents 
itself as supplying at once a theory of Grod's dealings 
which experience has shown much to recommend as 
probable, and which braces the mind for that which yet 
remains to be endured. Calvinism will thus always 
hold its ground amidst the many and various aspects of 
religious thought and faith, for it suits well a certain 
and not a small class of minds ; and it has, moreover, a 
manifest affinity and seasonableness for a mood and 



254 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

temperament by no means uncommon after the best of 
our days in this world are past and gone. 

Such reflections explain and justify the allegation 
that Calvinism is essentially rationalistic. For ra- 
tionalism is not a title which belongs properly and 
peculiarly to any particular set of religious opinions, or 
opinions about religion, but rather to a certain method 
of arriving at conclusions in the province of religion, be 
those conclusions what they may. The rationalist is 
one who holds what he holds not as matter of faith, 
but as the result of argument which has convinced 
his understanding. The non-rationalist need not hold 
that which his reason gainsays; on the contrary, he 
ought to be able to give a good account in reason of the 
hope that is in him ; but the principle on which he first 
believed was not argument but testimony, not demon- 
stration but authority, not reason but faith. The Cal- 
vinistic system ever makes its appeal to the reason; 
and, viewed thus, is far more thoroughly, far more 
purely rationalistic than any system of religious tenets 
the world ever saw, except perhaps its own proper and 
usual corruption, Socinianism. Calvin lays out the 
scheme of salvation for you in clear sharp lines, and in 
logical sequence. His word to you is, " Accept the 
covenant, appropriate it, and live." The business of the 
minister is simply to declare and explain the terms of 
the bargain God has been pleased to make, in order to 
rescue some few from their otherwise inevitable doom. 
The destruction of the very idea of common worship, 
and the dislike of any thing and every thing in the 
shape of symbolical and ornate ritual, follow of course. 



CRITICAL ESSAYS. 255 

Where religion is made a simple affair of the under- 
standing, preaching, i. e. enlightening and informing 
men's minds as to the method of salvation, is the 
one thing needful. The communities which have held 
stedfastly to Calvin's theology have, therefore, been 
more consistent than himself when they have reverted, 
as they have done, to the Zuinglian doctrine of the 
sacraments, which Calvin worked so hard to uproot ; 
and when they have even abandoned the " Directory," 
wherein some few shreds of liturgical notions yet lin- 
gered, and by limiting their ministers to extempo- 
raneous effusions, have turned their very prayers into a 
sermon. 

The understanding when elevated into a destructive 
pre-eminence over the other faculties, as it is in the 
Calvinistic system, is not likely to be satisfied for long 
with the function of drawing conclusions from assigned 
premises. It will go on to scrutinize principles too; 
to ask on what grounds they rest, why those particular 
ones are entitled to exclusive authority. It was not for 
nothing that Lselius Socinus lived and thought for 
several years at Zurich, before he migrated to Poland 
in 1551, and began to propagate his heresy. It is 
not an accident that the Calvinistic churches gene- 
rally, with the exception indeed of the Scotch Esta- 
blishment, have lapsed utterly and hopelessly into 
Socinianism. Particular parts of the Genevan dogmas, 
no doubt, may bear a share in the blame of provoking a 
reaction against their harshness. Their one-sided pre- 
sentment of Christ's work for us as almost solely one of 
vicarious satisfaction, and their exaggeration of the truth 



256 CRITICAL ESSAYS. 

as regards the fall of man, transgress or overpass so griev- 
ously both experience and reason, both Scripture and 
primitive teaching, that when propounded they can 
hardly escape being contradicted, and they can hardly 
be contradicted without inducing error in the opposite 
extreme. Yet it is, perhaps, rather in its naked intel- 
lectualism that we must seek the true ground of the 
powerful affinity which Calvinism undoubtedly possesses 
for Sociniahism, and through this for unbelief. 

Calvin's own town furnishes the most striking and 
the most ' melancholy example of these last remarks. 
Geneva, which inflicted a slow and torturing death 
on Servetus for rationalism, has in our days ex- 
pressly and officially repudiated all confessions of faith 
whatsoever. Where in old times it was penal to be 
absent from sermon, travellers now report but a few 
scores as surrounding on a Sunday the pulpit whence 
Calvin preached. Whilst we write, the news has arrived 
that the Consistory, — Calvin's Consistory! — has re- 
cently rejected a proposal made by some of the pastors 
to celebrate its founder's tercentenary Romanism at 
present seems to be at Geneva the rising faith, and to 
offer the only hope and prospect of winning back to 
something like a visible profession of Christianity one 
of the most irreligious, though by no means the most 
immoral, cities of the Continent. 

THE END. 



GILBERT AND RIVINGTON, PRINTERS, ST. JOHN'S SQUARE, LONDON.